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Townie : a memoir by Andre Dubus

Townie : a memoir (edition 2011)

by Andre Dubus

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5752817,226 (3.88)46
Title:Townie : a memoir
Authors:Andre Dubus
Info:New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2011.
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Townie by Andre Dubus Iii



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Now don't get me wrong this is not a bad book and I can see why there are so many 5 star reviews. It's a warts and all story about Andre Debus 111 and his somewhat chaotic, violent and erratic life from a skinny frightened youth to a violent drug induced teenager and finally an author and writer of some eloquence. His parents divorced at a very early age and it was left to his mother to raise four children in the depressed drug and crime atmosphere of a small Massachusetts town. Always in the shadows was the figure of his father (Andre Debus 11) who still retained a great influence and hold over his son even though he no longer resided at the family home and seemed to use his position as a Professor to entice and attract love and attention from his young students.

In order to obtain some recognition and respect in his community the young Andre embarks on a fanatical weight training programme and by so doing uses his new enhanced and almost psychotic strength to bully intimidate and violently attack those who might do him wrong. This forms the central point of this story and yet there comes a time when the fighting must stop and Andre must question the truth of the path he has chosen for to do otherwise would surely result in his violent demise. The answer and his salvation come in the form of discovering his gift as a writer and author.

This is a story about hope, love, and the strength and support of family. In that respect it is a good and exciting read, but I became somewhat disillusioned with the endless fighting fuelled with copious amounts of alcohol and drugs resulting in me becoming somewhat distracted and glad when I finally concluded. ( )
  runner56 | Sep 2, 2016 |
the first 1/3 of the book was pretty good. it's abut a kid growing up in a tough area of boston with an interesting family dynamic.

the other 2/3 was not believable (think james frey's 'a million little pieces') and terribly repetitive.

memoirs are great when they reveal truth and horrible when they inflate the ego with lies and exaggeration.

on so many levels, i kept asking where was dubus' editor??? ( )
  Joseph_W_Naus | Jul 20, 2016 |
One of those books I thought I was just browsing, then found myself half way through. A gripping memoir with profound reflections on anger. violence, family, and writing itself.
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
Other reviewers have already mentioned this, but perhaps the most impressive thing about "Townie" is the fact that it exists at all. Most people who had Andre Dubus III's uprbinging don't write books, they die young, end up in prison, or, if they survive, don't really grow up to be the writing type. Dubus's memoir records a whole set of experiences and enthusiasms that, for this reason, hardly ever make it into print. There's a lot in here about fighting, drug use, teenage delinquency, manual labor and post-sixties societal decay. It's a relentlessly physical book: the author's honest, and even eloquent, about the anger and resentment he felt growing up and the way that these feelings expressed themselves through fistfights and relentless physical training. I can't think of another book that describes body-on-body violence with the psychological honesty that "Townie" does: it might leave you feeling bruised. Despite all this, Dubus finds a way to tell his story gracefully. His writing is direct and unadorned, but not without subtlety. "Townie" is also a sort of tribute to the author's famous writer father, and he writes candidly about both his enormous talent and his failures as a father and a human being. It's nice to see father and son reach a sort of understanding by the time that the book ends, but Dubus III's also honest about the fact that the resolution's not really complete: he obviously wishes that his father knew more about the rough, chaotic childhood that he abandoned him to. Dubus pére comes off, at times, as shockingly self-centered and inexcusably ignorant about the way that his kids grew up, while Dubus's mother merely seems absent, overwhelmed and barely able to cope with the challenges that her choices had forced upon her. "Townie" could probably be criticized for being a bit overlong, but I'm glad that Dubus was able to write it, and to bear up under the challenges life threw his way. He feels no regrets about cutting short his boxing career and rejecting violence as the preferred solution to all of his problems, but it's also clear that he never stopped being a fighter. ( )
1 vote TheAmpersand | Sep 13, 2015 |
This man leads my Tribe of Writers who Run and sometimes Fight. Yes, the fighting can be violent, but it's the same flame that guides a writer --or a runner-- to complete the long and challenging task.

This man is a master. Don't let the violence mislead you.

4 3/4 stars. Lost a partial star because neither books nor people are perfect.

This is the best book I've read in 2015... ( )
  terrybanker | Aug 24, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393064662, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2011: Rarely has the process of becoming a writer seemed as organic and--dare I say it--moral as it does in Andre Dubus III's clear-eyed and compassionate memoir, Townie. You might think that following his father's trade would have been natural and even obvious for the son and namesake of Andre Dubus, one of the most admired short story writers of his time, but it was anything but. His father left when he was 10, and as his mother worked long hours to keep them fed, her four children mostly raised themselves, stumbling through house parties and street fights in their Massachusetts mill town, so cut off from the larger world that when someone mentioned "Manhattan" when Andre was in college he didn't know what they were talking about. What he did know, and what he recalls with detailed intensity, were the battles in bars and front yards, brutal to men and women alike, that first gave him discipline, as he built himself from a fearful kid into a first-punch, hair-trigger bruiser, and then empathy, as, miraculously, he pulled himself back from the violence that threatened to define him. And it was out of that empathy that, wanting to understand the stories of the victims of brutality as well as those whose pain drove them to dish it out, he began to write, reconciling with his father and eventually giving us novels like House of Sand and Fog and now this powerful and big-hearted memoir. --Tom Nissley

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:10 -0400)

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After their parents divorce in the 1970's, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their exhausted working mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and crime. To protect himself and those he loved from street violence, Andre learned to use his fists so well that he was even scared of himself. He was on a fast track to getting killed, or killing someone else, or to beatings-for-pay as a boxer. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash of worlds couldn't have been more stark or more difficult for a son to communicate to a father. Only by becoming a writer himself could Andre begin to bridge the abyss and save himself.… (more)

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