Townie by Andre Dubus III
In this memoir, novelist Andre Dubus III explores his unsettled background as a child of divorce in the 1970s. After his father, an acclaimed author, left Dubus’s mother to raise four kids alone in a Massachusetts mill town filled with drugs and crime, Dubus felt he had to protect himself and those he loved. He turned to violence, learning to use his fists to defend himself and his siblings. Over the years, Dubus was involved in countless fights, many of which left men in the hospital.
As he grew older, Dubus felt aimless and unsure what to do with his life, and signed on to become a boxer. But then Dubus discovered there was a better way to channel his anger. He began to write short stories, at first on a whim and then with more intention and purpose. The act of writing was a catharsis not only for his own violent rage, but for his lingering anger toward his father. Greater still, writing was a way to appreciate another person’s story, and to then understand his or her actions. By learning these valuable lessons, Dubus was able to forgive his father and establish a loving, if not somewhat complicated, relationship with him.
This is a gritty, unflinchingly honest look at a man’s evolution from a lost, angry kid to a successful, compassionate author. It is also an examination of how anger can manifest and spread, and how writing can illuminate the way toward love, redemption, and forgiveness.
Book Review by Shannon Bowring, Technical Services Coordinator
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