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Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III

Dirty Love (2013)

by Andre Dubus III

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Beautifully written, but so very depressing! This collection of novellas submerges the reader in the darkest aspects of what it means to love. Beware of this painful journey! ( )
  hemlokgang | Dec 31, 2017 |
I checked this out of the library after having been blown away by Dubus' novel THE HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG. This collection consists of four novellas, but I only read the first two and half of the third. (Or maybe all of the third and part of the fourth).
No particular reason for not finishing the book. What I did read was very good. I just got distracted by other books. ( )
  dickmanikowski | Sep 18, 2017 |
I'm not normally a fan of short stories, but I like this author and I gave it a go. I found it a difficult read overall - some of the stories have a tendency to skip about in time to such a degree that I found them impossible to follow. In general, the ones I preferred were the ones that didn't do that. ( )
  jayne_charles | Aug 2, 2016 |
Not a novel in the traditional sense, Dirty Love is four loosely connected novellas delving into the turmoil, trauma and tenderness of love and relationships. Hilariously, my library put a romance sticker on the spine with hearts on it. Uh, no. No HEA ending here. This is not a romance and if you can’t handle fairly explicit sex scenes, don’t read it.

Because the stories all feature different characters (with tiny spill-overs from prior sections) in different situations, there’s a lot here to like or dislike depending on your perspective. For example, I thought Mark was a whiny, masochistic asshole and the story a pretty manipulative device. It felt deceptive, but like a magic trick; I kind of enjoyed the fact that he was putting one over on me. The whole magnanimous forgiveness thing. Gag. Wife as just another possession; the age old story.

Marla’s section was the most bland for me because it felt cliched. See, Marla is a fat girl who has never had a boyfriend. Then she gets one and he turns out not to be Prince Charming, but instead is Prince Annoying. She’s going to dump him, but her friends counsel her otherwise, telling her that she’s lucky to have found anyone and she should just suck it up because fat girls have no choice. She does. Ugh. The underlying premise reminded me of that bit in Ferris Bueller when he turns to the camera and shares the fact that Cameron is so pathetic he’ll probably marry the first girl he lays because he’ll have built up that experience so much in his mind. Yeah, like that.

It’s been a long time since the first forest-fire feeling of being engulfed by love and attraction, so Robert and Althea’s situation felt really rushed. Maybe it goes like that sometimes, but I didn’t wonder when it came off the rails. Not only was it fast, but they had zero in common so...it felt weird.

The last story is where the title of the book comes from and boy it makes me glad I don’t have a daughter and that cell phones and the internet hadn’t been invented yet when I was a teenager. Devon is pressured into a sexual encounter then shamed when she is filmed performing the act. Of course once it’s out, there’s no stopping it and she has to leave home to escape the social ostracism akin to the ducking chair in Puritan New England. It also reminded me that women are expected to perform sexually at the drop of a hat; it’s their only function, but they aren’t expected to like it. Girls don’t equate sex with pleasure any more and their partners don’t have to be even the least kind to them, never mind make sex enjoyable. It used to be thought that females couldn’t orgasm, now it’s superfluous; they shouldn’t expect one. Truly sickening and I’m glad I’m not raising a girl these days.

A few lines jumped out at me like -
“...the vodka goes into Mark like a mildly dangerous thought he ignores…” p 37

“It used to be a memory for both of them, but now it’s only his. And when he goes, will it really be gone? Will they all be gone? Some private library burning to the ground?” p 223

I also gotta say that I loved taking a trip back home with this book. So many of the places in New Hampshire and Massachusetts were familiar and it was really nice to have that experience in a book. ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | Apr 4, 2016 |
Dubus is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary writers. Something like Richard Yates, you know it's going to be heartbreaking but you can't stop reading. And Dubus (unlike Yates) manages to evoke hope even though he looks unflinchingly at the pain that life can bring. I thought I would just read one story out of this...and I just kept reading. Though some might see it as a cute technique, I love the effect of main characters turning up as minor characters in the next story. Interdependent web of all existence...yep. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393064654, Hardcover)

From the award-winning author of the #1 bestseller House of Sand and Fog, a heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning.

With “an eye for searing detail that is unequaled so far this century” (Dallas Morning News) celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love. On the Massachusetts coast north of Boston, a controlling manager, Mark, discovers his wife’s infidelity after twenty-five years of marriage. An overweight young woman, Marla, gains a romantic partner but loses her innocence. A philandering bartender/aspiring poet, Robert, betrays his pregnant wife. And in the stunning title novella, a teenage girl named Devon, fleeing a dirty image of her posted online, seeks respect in the eyes of her widowed great-uncle Francis and of an Iraq vet she’s met surfing the Web. Slivered by happiness and discontent, shadowed by aging and death but also by persistent hope and forgiveness, these beautifully wrought narratives express extraordinary tenderness toward human beings, our vulnerable hearts and bodies, our fulfilling and unfulfilling lives alone and with others.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:37 -0400)

A collection of short stories examining the lives of suburbanites seeking solace and gratification in food, sex, work, and love.

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