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Townie
by III Andre Dubus

Overview - After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their exhausted working mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and everyday violence. To protect himself and those he loved, Andre started pumping iron and learned to use his fists so well that he became the kind of man who could send others to the hospital with one punch, and did.  Read more...

 
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More About Townie by III Andre Dubus
 
 
 
Overview
After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their exhausted working mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and everyday violence. To protect himself and those he loved, Andre started pumping iron and learned to use his fists so well that he became the kind of man who could send others to the hospital with one punch, and did. Irresistibly drawn to stand up for the underdog, he was on a fast track to getting killed or killing someone else. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash of worlds between town and gown, between the hard drinking, drugging, and fighting of townies and the ambitions of well-fed students debating books and ideas, couldn t have been more stark or more difficult for a son to communicate to a father. Only by finally putting pen to paper himself did young Andre come into his own, discovering the power of empathy in channeling the stories of others and ultimately bridging the rift between his father and himself. An unforgettable book, Townie is a riveting and profound meditation on physical violence and the failures and triumphs of love."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780393064667
  • ISBN-10: 0393064662
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Publish Date: February 2011
  • Page Count: 387


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2010-12-13
  • Reviewer: Staff

Long before he became the highly acclaimed author of House of Sand and Fog, Dubus shuffled and punched his way through a childhood and youth full of dysfunction, desperation, and determination. Just after he turned 12, Dubus’s family fell rapidly into shambles after his father—the prominent writer Andre Dubus—not only left his wife for a younger woman but also left the family in distressing poverty on the violent and drug-infested side of their Massachusetts mill town. For a few years, Dubus escaped into drugs, embracing the apathetic “no-way-out” attitude of his friends. After having his bike stolen, being slapped around by some of the town’s bullies, and watching his brother and mother humiliated by some of the town’s thugs, Dubus started lifting weights at home and boxing at the local gym. Modeling himself on the Walking Tall sheriff, Buford Pusser, Dubus paid back acts of physical violence with physical violence. Ultimately, he decided to take up his pen and write his way up from the bottom and into a new relationship with his father. In this gritty and gripping memoir, Dubus bares his soul in stunning and page-turning prose. (Feb.)

 
BookPage Reviews

The healing power of words

When Andre Dubus III was 11 years old, his parents parted ways. The oldest of four siblings, Dubus watched as his father drove away, while his younger brother ran after the car, throwing handfuls of gravel in its wake, shouting “You bum!” With a hopeless resolve, Dubus realizes that “Mom would need to be comforted now. . . . There was food to think about. How to get it with no car. I tried to keep standing as straight as I could.”

With little money or emotional support from their father (the writer Andre Dubus), young Andre and his siblings grew up poor in a series of Massachusetts mill towns, living in rundown neighborhoods plagued by street-fighting, crime and drugs. A self-professed coward and physically weak, Dubus retreated into apathy and drugs, helplessly witnessing violence and aggression against himself and his family. After years of such attacks, Dubus’ rage surfaced: He decided to fight back. He lifted weights, boxed at the local gym and became a strong, viciously adept and habitual brawler.

In this emotionally resonant and often achingly beautiful narrative, Dubus traces the arc of his hurt, anger, revenge and despair as he fights a battle for the survival of his soul and spirit, which grew weaker as his body gained strength. Eventually entering the rarified Bradford College, where his father was a professor, he was an out-of-place and indifferent student, especially after he overheard a fellow student refer to him as “such a townie.” Dubus writes: “I’d heard the word before. . . . Sheetrock hangers and housepainters and off-duty cops: townies.”

Dubus (House of Sand and Fog) renders his eventual life path—leaving his hometown, returning to college, turning to writing, coming back to his hometown and caring for his injured father—in powerfully nuanced scenes and dialogue. An honestly told story of fights and fighting, filial love, loneliness, bodily misery and soul-hunger, Townie exquisitely explicates one writer’s beginnings and his consuming need for expression—not through the delusive potency of physical violence, but through the redemptive, alchemical power of words.

 
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