The author of nine works of fiction, Andre Dubus received the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rea Award for excellence in short fiction, the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Boston Globe's first annual Lawrence L. Winship Award, and fellowships from both the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations. Until his death in 1999, he lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
What John Cheever did for upper-middle-class suburbs the equally talented Dubus does for the blue-collar manufacturing towns of Massachusetts. The most compelling of these finely crafted stories depicts the inhabitants of fading communities struggling to maintain stability as factories close and customary ways disappear. They don't often succeed. ``Townies'' juxtaposes the ideal of a posh women's college with harsh local realities. A young couple in ``Anna'' robs a drugstore to achieve a pathetic parody of material success. Characters commit violence for love or revenge without hope of redemption. Often graphic, never unbelievable, the tales are dense with the dark side of the American dream. Recommended. See below for review of a work by Dubus's son. Ed. Starr E. Smith, Georgetown Univ. Lib., Washington, D.C.
Dubus, known as one of our most accomplished storytellers, has in his own life recently experienced some of the terrible things that customarily happen in his fiction (last year a car accident cost him a leg). In this fine collection of 23 stories, an iron-pumping hothead terrorizes and rapes his ex-wife; (``The Pretty Girl''); a sadistic Marine sergeant destroys a green recruit; (``Cadence''); a drunken youth kicks his girlfriend to death and leaves her body in the snow. (``Townies''). ``New Hampshire is also a redneck state,'' observes one character. Yet the disorderly lives of these small-town or suburban denizens are rendered in a calm, richly textured, minutely detailed style. Dubus gets under the skin of a 19-year-old baseball pitcher whose wife ditches him for her dentist, a waitress emotionally scarred by her husband's death in Korea, an obese woman who rationalizes her secret gorging on sweets, a divorcing disc jockey coming to terms with his misogyny. Many of these tales are set in his favorite fictional territory northwest of Boston, yet an equal number span the map from Virginia to Texas to California. With unflinching candor Dubus explores the uneasy accommodations of marriage and adultery, the self-deceptions of middle age and the terrors of childhood. (Nov . )