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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.… (mais)
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    With or Without You: A Memoir por Domenica Ruta (TheAmpersand)
    TheAmpersand: Another midlife memoir about growing up in tough circumstances in the Boston area by two authors who have unlikely connections to the worlds of wealth and academic privilege. Dubus's book is the more linear narrative, while Ruta's story, page for page, features more bad behavior interpersonal chaos. Both authors share how writing helped them survive their chaotic upbringings.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 41 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Highly recommended. A memoir by Andre Dubus' son, who is also an acclaimed writer, of growing up poor, in violent, working-class towns in Massachusetts and how he learned how to fight and how not to fight. In no way smarmy. ( )
  monicaberger | Jan 22, 2024 |
Fascinating and gritty account of the author's life. ( )
  maryelisa | Jan 16, 2024 |
An extraordinary memoir, one where the author takes his experience and turns it into an examination of masculinity, violence, fatherhood. Perhaps even more so it is an examination of rage and the beauty of forgiveness and love. What does it mean to be a good man? Where do we find direction when no one has ever done so much as point a finger the right way? Dubus' story is interesting in and of itself, but I have no taste for books that make me a voyeur. If a person's individual life has nothing to teach me about the world then why are they writing/publishing it and why am I reading it?

Dubus is the son of the writer bearing the same name (absent the III of course) an excellent and revered writer, who never really gained a wide audience. He was an interesting man, and an entertaining one, but not a very good one. He moved from relationship to relationship leaving behind children he could not afford to support, loving them but not parenting them so essentially being worthless (admittedly this is personal for me.) Dubus the Elder would rather hang out and get high and have sex with his 18 year old students than do anything useful. His third wife was the same age as his eldest daughter. All the exes loved him, but all would agree he was a terrible husband and father. It would appear there was not a malicious bone in the man's body mostly, one suspects, because being malicious would take too much energy. Dubus the Younger grew up poor in a rough neighborhood. His mother was left to work full time and raise 4 children on very little money. She had little time or energy for her kids, though clearly she tried her best. Andre found the structure he longed for in a boxing gym. He power lifted and learned to fight, and he set out to even scores. He caused a lot of damage, and then in a moment if epiphany he learned the power of not fighting, of loving, of listening, of changing hearts. The rage in him didn't die, he just doesn't free it through violence, using that energy for more productive things.

This book is also very much about the centrality and joy of family, and of unconditional love. Never sentimental and relentlessly honest. Dubus does not shy from vulnerability. He turns himself inside out to say what needs to be said. It is good stuff, smart stuff, and the man can write spectacularly well. In addition to his ability to drawing characters we truly feel for, his ability to evoke a sense of place is jaw-dropping.

This book served as a laser beam of light for me in analyzing what I did not like about the recent book Dirtbag Massachusetts, and I am going to go back to that and reconsider my 2-star rating. Read this instead. If you let it, it will tell you a little something about what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a good man. ( )
  Narshkite | Oct 3, 2022 |
The author of this memoir (hereinafter Andre) is the son of writer Andre Dubus (hereinafter the father). When he was 10, Andre's father left his mother to raise him and his brother and sisters basically on her own. His father was a published and well-regarded author, as well as a writing professor at a small prestigious liberal arts college. He remained largely absent from the children's lives during their growing up years, and provided little financial support to their mother or them.

Andre, his sibs, and his mother lived on the proverbial wrong side of the tracks in the college town where his father worked and taught (on the "good" side of the tracks). They were poor, often hungry. His education was sporadic (schools on that side of town being poor, and his mother was frequently absent, working low-paying jobs to provide bare minimums), drugs were rampant, petty crime was prevalent. Violence became a way of life for Andre as he grew up. The first part of the memoir covers his growing up years in these difficult circumstances.

Later he comes to realize the damage the violence and lack of education were doing to him, he began to turn his life around. He discovered writing, and that he had a talent for it. (I have read two of his novels, House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days, both excellent).

This memoir is highly praised, and is described as highlighting the differences in the lives of the privileged college students and staff and those in the town not associated with the college and not doing so well. I found that rather than focusing so much on poverty, the book instead focused on the violence in Andre's life, perpetrated by him and by those around him. The violence was a choice Andre deliberately made, and which he ultimately had to overcome to get his life on track. Descriptions of violence are pervasive and vivid. I can't say I enjoyed that aspect of the book. Nevertheless, a moving memoir.

3 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Oct 27, 2021 |
I never come away from a Dubus story without feeling my life has been enriched, that I've had a tour into the human condition with a guide who is a master. This book is no different.

Dubus recounts his time growing up, but this isn't your basic memoir. Instead it's the story of a boy learning to be a man. It's the story of a boy who wants courage and mistakes violence for it. It's a heart-rending story.

I can say so much about this story, but it would all be so deeply personal, so instead, I'll just state that this book, as all of Dubus' books have seemed to do, came along at exactly the right time in my life to read it and allowed me not only to learn more about Andre Dubus III, but about myself as well.

That, my friends, is a gift. ( )
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
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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.

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