Dirty Love

( 3 )

Overview

In this heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning, beloved and celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love.
In these linked novellas in which characters walk out the back door of one story and into the next, love is "dirty"—tangled up with need, power, boredom, ego, fear, and fantasy. On the Massachusetts coast north of Boston, a ...

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Dirty Love

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Overview

In this heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning, beloved and celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love.
In these linked novellas in which characters walk out the back door of one story and into the next, love is "dirty"—tangled up with need, power, boredom, ego, fear, and fantasy. 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, aging and death, but also 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.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Jeff Turrentine
…staggeringly good…[Dubus's] self-assured, no-nonsense prose has had an undeniably old-school vibe…Reading these stories is like visiting a classic steakhouse where the coolly professional waiters don't hold your cultivated taste for high-concept haute cuisine against you, but rather decide to remind you what you've been missing by giving you one of the best dining experiences you've ever had. His sentences are like windows of tempered glass: They seem sturdier and more transparent than so many others out there. They're not hard-boiled, exactly, but in a literary-fiction environment where coyness and irony enjoy so much currency, they might scan that way for some…These are sentences that…know exactly what their job is and perform it with consummate grace and quiet pride. Dubus can home in more quickly and efficiently on a character's inner life than any writer I've encountered in recent memory.
Publishers Weekly
The master of naturalistic New England fiction returns with a book of four loosely connected short works that showcases his Dreisarian abilities at their most trenchant. In the superb “Listen Carefully as Our Options Have Changed,” Mark Welch is a middle-aged project manager who suspects that his wife is having an affair. How he finds out and what he does about it form the core of this novella, which is affecting for all the ways the author shows how difficult it is to accept that sometimes we know the least about those we think we know best. Credit Dubus for taking a hackneyed premise and making it seem new through the specificity of his observations. One shorter work deals with Marla, an overweight bank teller, and the surprising things she discovers about herself after she falls in love for the first time; another follows Robert Doucette, a bartender-cum-poet who cheats on his pregnant wife in a way that has repercussions for their unborn daughter. In The Scarlet Letter-ish title novella, teenage Devon Brandt, after an Internet indiscretion went viral, goes off to live with her great-uncle Francis, a recent widower and Korean War veteran, and develops an online relationship with Hollis, a 27-year-old Army vet. But will she ever be able to escape her past? Once again, Dubus creates deeply flawed characters and challenges the reader to identify with their common humanity. Agent: Philip Spitzer, Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency. (Oct.)
The New Yorker
“[N]obody does quiet desperation better than Dubus.”
Chloe Schama - The New Republic
“Gorgeous.”
Jeff Turrentine - New York Times Book Review
“Staggeringly good… . Dubus can home in more quickly and efficiently on a character’s inner life than any writer I’ve encountered in recent memory.”
Nina MacLaughlin - Boston Magazine
“Intimate short stories and novellas about the difficulty of sharing lives, about betrayal and fidelity and the emotional violence we inflict on the people we love.”
Ron Charles - Washington Post
“It’s that just-out-of-reach desire that creates such poignancy in each of these stories, including one about a philandering bartender named Robert, who likes to pretend he’s a poet. He’s not, but Dubus is. He’s got a transparent, easy style that’s never self-consciously lyrical but constantly delivers phrases of insight and gentle wit that lay open these characters without scalding them with irony, as we’ve come to expect from so many clever novelists.”
The New Republic
“I can think of no novelist who renders the gritty, down-and-out corners of New England better than Dubus, and those beautifully specific, contained slices of American life open into whole universes of love, violence, guilt, and betrayal.”
Anthony Doerr - Boston Globe
“Powerful… lush.”
Kim Curtis - Associated Press
“Fabulous…[Dubus’s] writing is as gorgeous as ever.”
Mark Athitakis - Star Tribune
“[Dubus] writ[es] with…winning candor and intelligence.”
Library Journal
09/01/2013
The latest from the best-selling author of The Garden of Last Days and House of Sand and Fog is a collection of loosely linked novellas that explore, with devastating detail, the failings and never-ending needs of people who search for fulfillment in work, food, sex, and love. Dubus's characters are flawed individuals who discover how life is easy to screw up. Marla, an overweight young woman, at last finds love but loses herself. Robert, a bartender and aspiring poet, betrays his pregnant wife. Mark, a controlling manager, catches his wife of 25 years in an affair. And Devon, a teenage girl in the astounding and timely title novella, flees the fallout of an intimate image of herself posted online. She escapes to her uncle's house, seeking his respect, and befriends a soldier on the Internet who offers her redemption. VERDICT Filled with heartbreak, slices of happiness, and unrelenting hope, this expertly crafted collection depicts human weakness and our amazing capacity for forgiveness. Dubus fans will embrace this latest work, as will lovers of the short story and fiction. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/22/13.]—Lisa Block, Atlanta
Kirkus Reviews
Dubus anatomizes personal--especially sexual--relationships brilliantly in these loosely concatenated novellas. At the center of the characters' world are the small, economically depressed towns in Massachusetts where waiters, waitresses, bartenders and bankers live and move and have their being. To Dubus' credit, he doesn't feel he has to solve their personal problems and the intricate twists of their relationships. Instead, he chronicles what's going on with sympathy but without any sense that he needs to rescue them. In the first narrative, we meet hapless Mark Welch, who's recently found out his wife, Laura, is having an affair with a banker. Although occasionally picking up and hefting a piece of lead pipe, Mark ultimately finds himself powerless to change the circumstances of his life. In the second story we follow Marla, a physically unprepossessing bank teller (yes, she works at the same bank as Laura's lover) who feels her life slipping away from her. She begins a desultory affair with a 37-year-old engineer whose passions tend toward video games and keeping his house pathologically clean. The next story introduces us to Robert Doucette, bartender and poet manqué, who marries Althea, a sweet but reticent upholsterer. In the final months of Althea's pregnancy, Robert has hot sex with Jackie, a waitress at the restaurant, and Althea finds this out and simultaneously goes into labor. The final narrative focuses on Devon, an 18-year-old waitress at the tavern where Robert works. To get away from an abusive father, she lives with a considerate great uncle (who harbors his own secrets), but she has to deal with the unintended consequences of an untoward sexual act that was disseminated through social media. First-rate fiction by a dazzling talent.
Mary Pols - San Francisco Chronicle
“Dubus delivers strong insights into bad behavior.”
Booklist
“Starred review. “Electrifying, compassionate, and profound. These are masterful and ravishing tales of loneliness, confusion, betrayal,
the hunger for oblivion, and the quest for forgiveness.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393064650
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/7/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 291,607
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus III is the author of The Garden of Last Days, House of Sand and Fog (a #1 New York Times bestseller, Oprah’s Book Club pick, and finalist for the National Book Award) and Townie, winner of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His writing has received many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Magazine Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. He lives with his family north of Boston.

Biography

Although writing runs in the family (his father is the late, award-winning short story writer Andres Dubus, and his cousin is bestselling mystery author James Lee Burke), Andre Dubus III never intended to pursue the literary life.

Raised by his divorced, cash-strapped mother in a series of drab, blue-collar towns in Massachusetts, Dubus attended 14 different schools before he was 18. As perpetual "new kids on the block," he and his siblings were bullied unmercifully; Dubus grew up fiercely protective of his brother and sisters and furious at the world for its injustices. After high school, he enrolled in Bradford College in Haverhill, MA, where his famous father taught creative writing -- and where it was generally assumed he would follow suit.

But, writing was the last thing Dubus wanted to do. He transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, studied sociology and political science, and graduated as a dedicated Marxist with a burning desire to right the world's wrongs. He took a year off from his studies and returned to Massachusetts, where he worked construction and channeled his pugilism into training for the Golden Gloves. He also began dating a student from his father's fiction class. One day, she showed him a manuscript written by one of her more talented classmates. Dubus was blown away by its beauty and spent the rest of the summer working on a short story he describes as "not very good." Nonetheless, he was well and truly hooked. Despite his best efforts to avoid genetic destiny, Dubus ended up going into the family business.

Over the next few years, Dubus supported himself as a carpenter, actor, bartender, boxer, private investigator, and bounty hunter -- deliberately choosing jobs that would free up his mornings for writing. His first book, The Cage Keeper and Other Stories appeared in 1980, followed by the novel Bluesman in 1993. He devoted more than four years to House of Sand and Fog, the heartbreaking story of two fragile people enmeshed in an ownership dispute over a small house in the California hills. Considered by many to be his finest work, the book was nominated for a 1999 National Book Award and became an Oprah Book Club pick.

Nine years later, Dubus returned with The Garden of Last Days, a mesmerizing novel that imagines the lives of the 9/11 hijackers who embedded themselves into the fabric of American society while secretly plotting its destruction. Dubus has said that the novel began with the recurring vision of a single haunting image -- a wad of cash atop a bedroom dresser. Slowly, he came to see that the cash belonged to a stripper who worked in a seedy Florida club visited by the terrorist who would pilot the plane into the World Trade Center. In its review, Esquire called the novel "riveting and disturbing, as beautiful as it is bleak," and critics heralded it as a searing return to form for the bestselling author.

Good To Know

House of Sand and Fog was adapted for a 2003 Academy Award-nominated motion picture starring Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley.
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    1. Hometown:
      Newbury, MA
    1. Date of Birth:
      1959
    2. Place of Birth:
      California
    1. Education:
      University of Texas at Austin

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 12, 2013

    Give this author a try!

    Since retiring, I have become an avid reader, but am fairly new to the short story genre. I must say that this book really captured my attention and imagination with its vivid, realistic and compelling images concerning the frailties of human relationships. To me, there's nothing quite like being absorbed into, seduced by, a good book. This is one of those books in my estimation.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2013

    Unoriginal, dull, repetitious, perverse

    Pathetic stories that keep repeating the same theme:drunk losers obsessed with sex. Author takes sorry hollywood stab at "sex sells" and shock value. Waste of tine and money.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2013

    Angel

    ?..

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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