"Dubus has an eye for searing detail that is unequaled so far this century…and he employs that here to maximum effect."
Dallas Morning News - Joy Tipping
"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."
"This haunting memoir is as explosive as a Muhammad Ali prize fight, as vivid as a Basquiat canvas…This wrenching story can only strengthen the reputation of Andre Dubus III. From father to son, the torch has passed."
San Francisco Chronicle - Dan Cryer
"[Dubus III] is such a solid writer, he redeems the genre. He shows that truth can be as honest as fiction."
Seattle Times - Mark Lindquist
"A stormy and courageous memoir."
The New Yorker - Kate Bittman
"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."
"Harrowing and strange and beautiful…This book marks an important moment in the growing body of Dubus’s work."
"As a memoir, and as a family story,
Townie is beautiful and almost perfectly executed. As a meditation on violence, from an author who once embraced it, it is shocking, necessary and indispensable."
…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
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
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.)
"[A] harrowing and strange and beautiful book....an important moment in the growing body of Dubus’s work. "
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."
"You have to buy
The Chronicle of Higher Education
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"Fans of Dubus’s fiction will thrill to reading his muscular, occasionally lyrical prose rendering his own life."
"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."
"[Dubus] is such a solid writer, he redeems the genre. He shows that truth can be as honest as fiction."
"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."
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)
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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
Library Journal - Booksmack!
In this raw and splendid memoir, the author of the acclaimed novel HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG explores his relationship with his father, Andre Dubus II, a well-known writer who left the family when Dubus III was a boy. The author and his three siblings were left to a life of poverty and drugs in a run-down mill town in Massachusetts. Dubus copes with the onslaught of violence against him and his family by building up his muscles and his courage, and soon develops a taste for blood. Dubus’s even voice wonderfully conveys the teenager’s formidable fighting experiences as well as the uncanny flashes of insight that led him to relinquish the urge to fight and to focus on his own writing. F.J.K. © AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine
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.