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Townie
     

Townie

3.2 133
by Andre Dubus III
 

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Won Book of the Year Adult Non-Fiction—2012 Indie Choice Awards
Amazon Best Book of the Month February 2011
"Dubus relives, absent self-pity or blame, a life shaped by bouts of violence and flurries of tenderness."—Vanity Fair
After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their overworked mother in

Overview

Won Book of the Year Adult Non-Fiction—2012 Indie Choice Awards
Amazon Best Book of the Month February 2011
"Dubus relives, absent self-pity or blame, a life shaped by bouts of violence and flurries of tenderness."—Vanity Fair
After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their overworked mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and everyday violence. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash between town and gown, between the hard drinking, drugging, and fighting of "townies" and the ambitions of students debating books and ideas, couldn’t have been more stark. In this unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Dubus shows us how he escaped the cycle of violence and found empathy in channeling the stories of others—bridging, in the process, the rift between his father and himself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly Audio
Dubus, author of House of Sand and Fog, opens his memoir when he's 16, chasing his father through a forest. Having never run more than two miles in his life, Dubus runs 10 that day, in his sister's shoes, two sizes too small, which leave his 10 toes "split open like sausages over a fire." It's a dramatic, moving moment that sets the stage for a story of the author's impoverished, brutal childhood. In a neighborhood where "kids roamed the neighborhood like dogs," Dubus is faced with either giving in or getting out. His reading is fluid and convincing, adding an intimacy to the account, making the listening especially cathartic. A Norton hardcover. (Mar.)
Dwight Garner
Townie is a better, harder book than anything the younger Mr. Dubus has yet written; it pays off on every bet that's been placed on him. It's a sleek muscle car of a memoir that…growls like an amalgam of the best work by Richard Price, Stephen King, Ron Kovic, Breece D'J Pancake and Dennis Lehane, set to the desolate thumping of Bruce Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town"…Mr. Dubus's prose is clear, supple, unshowy. He gets a lot across with a few words.
—The New York Times
Darcey Steinke
…powerful…As this fine memoir closes, Dubus is concerned with a fundamental question: Can he care for a father who did not really take care of him? To the book's credit (and the author's), he does not lean on easy redemption.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
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.)
Laura Miller - Salon
“This is a memoir both disconcertingly naked and immensely careful; Dubus refrains from bitterness the way a Buddhist monk renounces worldly possessions....It's tempting to get angry on the author's behalf, but Townie patiently teaches its readers that rage is self-poisoning.”
Michael Schaub - NPR.org
“Dubus III, author of the critically acclaimed novel House of Sand and Fog, relates the story of his childhood and young adulthood with an immediate, raw intensity—it's at times difficult to read, but it's almost impossible to turn away. His prose is unaffected in the best way possible; there's never a hint of preciousness or pretentiousness. And his depictions of the northeastern Massachusetts of the '70s are stark and evocative; like his father, Dubus III is a master of setting.”
Dan Cryer - San Francisco Chronicle
“This haunting memoir is as explosive as a Muhammad Ali prize fight, as vivid as a Basquiat canvas.... Townie moves with the accelerating momentum of a thriller novel, plumbs the depths of a bittersweet love affair, and rends the reader's heart in two.”
Donna Seaman - Booklist
“Starred Review. Townie is a resolute story about the forging of a writer in fire and blood and a wrenching journey through the wreckage of New England’s lost factory world during the Vietnam War era. But Dubus wasn’t born into poverty, rage, and violence. His father, an ex–marine officer turned celebrated writer and adored college professor, initially settled his first family in the bucolic countryside. But the marriage failed, “Pop” moved out, and the four kids and their overwhelmed mother plunged into impoverished small-town hell. Dubus, a target for bullies, and his equally complex and resilient siblings were hungry, neglected, and imperiled within a storm of druggy nihilism and bloodlust. Dubus survived by lifting weights and learning to fight, but his unbridled aggression, even on the side of good, exacted a spiritual toll. Although their charismatic father was oblivious to his children’s suffering, he was not unloving, and when an accident left him confined to a wheelchair, their support was profound. Dubus chronicles each traumatic incident and realization in stabbing detail. So chiseled are his dramatic memories, his shocking yet redemptive memoir of self-transformation feels like testimony under oath as well as hard-hammered therapy, coalescing, ultimately, in a generous, penetrating, and cathartic dissection of misery and fury, creativity and forgiveness, responsibility and compassion.”
Elle
“In his memoir Townie, Andre Dubus III bravely claims all of the shadows he grew up under—his famous writer father, his parents’ divorce, his newly single mother’s impoverishment, the rough streets of the many working-class New England towns he called home. Fighting saved him for a while; then he put down his fists and picked up a pen. Lucky him, lucky us.”
Salon
This is a memoir both disconcertingly naked and immensely careful; Dubus refrains from bitterness the way a Buddhist monk renounces worldly possessions....It's tempting to get angry on the author's behalf, but Townie patiently teaches its readers that rage is self-poisoning.— Laura Miller
NPR.org
Dubus III, author of the critically acclaimed novel House of Sand and Fog, relates the story of his childhood and young adulthood with an immediate, raw intensity—it's at times difficult to read, but it's almost impossible to turn away. His prose is unaffected in the best way possible; there's never a hint of preciousness or pretentiousness. And his depictions of the northeastern Massachusetts of the '70s are stark and evocative; like his father, Dubus III is a master of setting.— Michael Schaub
Booklist
“Starred Review. Dubus chronicles each traumatic incident and realization in stabbing detail. So chiseled are his dramatic memories, his shocking yet redemptive memoir of self-transformation feels like testimony under oath as well as hard-hammered therapy, coalescing, ultimately, in a generous, penetrating, and cathartic dissection of misery and fury, creativity and forgiveness, responsibility and compassion.”
Boston Globe
“[A] harrowing and strange and beautiful book....an important moment in the growing body of Dubus’s work.”
Miami Herald
“Dubus writes compellingly of those trying times. Townie is a poignant coming-of-age story told by a man whose raw determination allowed him to endure a boyhood ruled by violence and emerge talented enough to write about it with brutal honesty.”
Seattle Times
“[Dubus] is such a solid writer, he redeems the genre. He shows that truth can be as honest as fiction.”
Smith Magazine
“Fans of Dubus’s fiction will thrill to reading his muscular, occasionally lyrical prose rendering his own life.”
Associated Press Staff
“Write what you know. It's an adage drilled into anyone who's ever put pen to paper or fingers to keys. It's also what makes memoirs such a test for fiction writers.Andre Dubus III passes that test with the highest marks in Townie. It's a searing memoir; a punch in the gut, literally.... [Dubus has] discovered, during a life of enduring and inflicting pain, his voice as a writer. Townie captures the birth and evolution of that voice—one worth listening to by anyone who believes in the redemptive power of the written word.”
The New York Times
“Townie is a better, harder book than anything the younger Mr. Dubus has yet written; it pays off on every bet that’s been placed on him.... Mr. Dubus’s prose is clear, supple, unshowy....you’ll agree with the boxing coach who said to Mr. Dubus as a teenager, 'I think you got the killer instinct, kid.'”
Cleveland Plain-Dealer
“Townie has all the rich texture, lucid characterization, compelling conflicts and narrative momentum of the best fiction. It renders heartbreaking, violent, tender and sometimes absurdly comic scenes without a trace of narcissism or sentimentality. From first sentence to last, Dubus employs a dispassionate yet urgent voice. It allows him to do justice to his past and to the people who populated it.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“His ability to describe violence might be unmatched among contemporary writers. He understands the arcane, unspoken vocabulary of how fights start, as well as the bone-crushing details of how they end. But Townie is most memorable for how vulnerable Dubus seems, once he has stripped himself down to the soul for his readers.”
San Francisco Chronicle
This haunting memoir is as explosive as a Muhammad Ali prize fight, as vivid as a Basquiat canvas.... Townie moves with the accelerating momentum of a thriller novel, plumbs the depths of a bittersweet love affair, and rends the reader's heart in two.— Dan Cryer
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune
“[A]n unflinching memoir, describing the degrees of darkness and light he found....Dubus has set a high water mark in this work: He shows us that the son's shadow can also be long, and can change the shape of that which came before it.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education
“You have to buy Townie.”
Laura Miller

When Dubus’ parents (his father was the revered short-story writer Andre Dubus Jr.) split up, he, his mother and his two siblings were relegated to a financially precarious existence in a New England mill town. He found their working-class neighborhood to be a realm of peril, where drugs, petty crime and...pointless violence lurked around every corner. Survival meant cultivating a hard, aggressively macho carapace, but Dubus’ occasional visits with his father showed him that there was a world of thought, tranquility and art out there somewhere, however inaccessible it seemed. The inspiration offered by these encounters was equaled only by the pain of his exile. Townie is the story of how Dubus made the journey to his own writer’s life, and also of how he almost didn’t make it. Unsparing and occasionally brutal, but never bitter, it’s an exceptionally eloquent depiction of...what it feels like to be left behind.Townie, in addition to probing the wounds of class and family, explains how the son became, like his father, a writer... Long before the end of Townie it becomes evident that Dubus reached a maturity his father never quite attained. His growing up may have been hard, but he grew up all the way.

NPR.org - Michael Schaub
“Dubus III, author of the critically acclaimed novel House of Sand and Fog, relates the story of his childhood and young adulthood with an immediate, raw intensity—it's at times difficult to read, but it's almost impossible to turn away. His prose is unaffected in the best way possible; there's never a hint of preciousness or pretentiousness. And his depictions of the northeastern Massachusetts of the '70s are stark and evocative; like his father, Dubus III is a master of setting.”
San Francisco Chronicle - Dan Cryer
“This haunting memoir is as explosive as a Muhammad Ali prize fight, as vivid as a Basquiat canvas.... Townie moves with the accelerating momentum of a thriller novel, plumbs the depths of a bittersweet love affair, and rends the reader's heart in two.”
Anita Shreve
“Compelling, riveting, gritty and astonishingly moving, Dubus's memoir Townie achieves that rarest of qualities: it makes us love the boy who becomes the man.”
Ann Hood
“In this powerful memoir, Andre Dubus III explores the complicated and intense relationships between siblings, mothers and sons, and fathers and sons. Growing up in hardscrabble old mill towns, Dubus learned to fight and survive and ultimately to find his own glorious voice … as Dubus finds his redemptive place in the world at last.”
Richard Russo
“I've never read a better or more serious meditation on violence, its sources, consequences, and, especially, its terrifying pleasures, than Townie. It's a brutal and, yes, thrilling memoir that sheds real light on the creative process of two of our best writers, Andre Dubus III and his famous, much revered father. You'll never read the work of either man in quite the same way afterward. You may not view the world in quite the same way either.”
James Lee Burke
“The best first-person account of an author's life I have ever read. The violence that is described is the kind that is with us every day, whether we recognize it or not. The characters are wonderful and compassionately drawn. I sincerely believe Andre Dubus may be the best writer in America. His talent is enormous. No one who reads this book will ever forget it.”
Wally Lamb
“Whatever it cost Dubus to bare his soul and write this brutally honest and life-affirming memoir, it is an extraordinary gift to his readers.”
Booklist - Donna Seaman
“Starred Review. Townie is a resolute story about the forging of a writer in fire and blood and a wrenching journey through the wreckage of New England’s lost factory world during the Vietnam War era. But Dubus wasn’t born into poverty, rage, and violence. His father, an ex–marine officer turned celebrated writer and adored college professor, initially settled his first family in the bucolic countryside. But the marriage failed, “Pop” moved out, and the four kids and their overwhelmed mother plunged into impoverished small-town hell. Dubus, a target for bullies, and his equally complex and resilient siblings were hungry, neglected, and imperiled within a storm of druggy nihilism and bloodlust. Dubus survived by lifting weights and learning to fight, but his unbridled aggression, even on the side of good, exacted a spiritual toll. Although their charismatic father was oblivious to his children’s suffering, he was not unloving, and when an accident left him confined to a wheelchair, their support was profound. Dubus chronicles each traumatic incident and realization in stabbing detail. So chiseled are his dramatic memories, his shocking yet redemptive memoir of self-transformation feels like testimony under oath as well as hard-hammered therapy, coalescing, ultimately, in a generous, penetrating, and cathartic dissection of misery and fury, creativity and forgiveness, responsibility and compassion.”
Library Journal
Two men named Wes Moore grew up in Baltimore, both black and poor; one became a Rhodes scholar, while the other went to prison. The scholar interviewed the criminal seeking to discover the deciding factors in their lives. Tailor-made for book groups. (LJ 4/15/10)

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal - Booksmack!
Dubus III recounts growing up after his professor/writer father, Andre Dubus, abandoned his family. He details struggling through stages of handling violence in the wake of estrangement from his father as an invisible, bullied child, unable to fight back; through being a young man determined to protect his family and others around him; to hyper-vigilance, bent on hitting first, while becoming as big and strong as possible. His journey through violence and constant reflections upon the underlying causes are powerful; it is at once a sorrowful tale of loss and one man's extraordinary path to a peaceful life.What I'm Telling My Friends: One of the most balanced, reflective, thoughtful books I've read to date. This addresses a wide range of topics with grace and depth. Julie Kane, "Memoir Short Takes", Booksmack!, 12/2/10
Kirkus Reviews

A powerful, haunting memoir from acclaimed novelist Dubus III(The Garden of Last Days, 2008, etc.).

The author grew up poor in Massachusetts mill towns, the oldest of four children of the celebrated short-story writer Andre Dubus (1936–1999), who abandoned the family in 1968 to pursue a young student. Beautifully written and bursting with life, the book tells the story of a boy struggling to express his "hurt and rage," first through violence aimed at school and barroom bullies and ultimately through the power of words. Weak and shy as he entered his teens, Dubus III lived with his mother and siblings in run-down houses in crime-ridden neighborhoods, where they ate canned food for dinner and considered occasional "mystery" car rides to nowhere special with their mother a big treat. While his mother was at work, young toughs hung out at his house doing drugs. At 16, he began training with weights and grew strong to fight his tormenters, and he became a vicious brawler in a leather jacket and ponytail. Meanwhile, at nearby Bradford College, his father taught, striding across campus in his neatly trimmed beard and Australian cowboy hats. The elder Dubus sent money home and took the children out on Sundays, but otherwise remained out of touch. He eventually went through many young women and three broken marriages. At Bradford, which he entered as a student, Dubus III was known only as his father's son, "such a townie." Although the author stopped expecting anything from his father, he yearned for the connection that finally came years later when he helped care for the elder Dubus after the 1986 car accident that crushed his legs. By then, Dubus III had found a new way to draw on the anger of the "semi-abandoned," turning his punches into sentences. His compassionate memoir abounds with exquisitely rendered scenes of fighting, cheating, drugging, drinking and loving.

A striking, eloquent account of growing up poor and of the making of a writer.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781441781567
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
02/28/2011
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
11
Product dimensions:
6.65(w) x 6.06(h) x 1.21(d)

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Newbury, MA
Date of Birth:
1959
Place of Birth:
California
Education:
University of Texas at Austin

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Townie 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 133 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It seems I liked this more than most readers. Perhaps because I am the same age and economic background as the writer. Still, I thought is was a really good read and showed a slice of American life not usually written about today. Somewhat reminded me of an adult version of The Outsiders.
mlspitz More than 1 year ago
This is the most compelling memoir I've read in decades. Not only does it entertain (un-put-downable) but it imparts one lesson after another on dealing with life's issues in the best and worst of times! This is a memoir of survival. It's beautifully and honestly written and it will no doubt be read as a classic by generations to come. Thank you Mr. Dubus.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My husband and I both read this book and really enjoyed it! I grew up in a town close to Haverhill and I came to town with my High School for sporting events. I remember all of downtown being either boarded up or having bars and a rough crowd. It was a scary place in those days and I was forbidden by my parents to go downtown. We live even closer to Haverhill now and are enjoying all the benefits of the restoration. The restaurants are wonderful and the entire downtown area has new shops and and lots of places to explore. I just watched Chronicle on Channel Five and they highlighted "Townie," Andre Dubus III and the "new" Haverhill! This book is a true depiction of life in Haverhill if you lived on the wrong side of the Merrimack River in those days. Congratulations to Andre Dubus III for a wonderful read, I couldn't put it down! Hopefully, the book becomes a movie soon!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Andre Dubus III has brought to life a painful place and time with such insight and forgiveness.As he spans his life and gains distance from adolescence his ability to forgive his father, his tormentors and himself is compelling. The personal growth and insight he shares is a testament to his heart. This is a memoir to devour and savor.
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