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Bluesman

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  306 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Set in a rural town in Massachusetts in the mid-sixties--and overshadowed by the escalating war in Vietnam--Bluesman tells the story of young Leo Suther, his girlfriend Allie, and his introduction to the blues. A novel of great warmth and charm that evokes a time when America itself was coming of age. Dubus is the author of The Cage Keeper and Other Stories.
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published April 1st 1993 by Faber & Faber (first published 1993)
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Alan Chen
While I normally find sentimentality a negative in my reading, I find Dubus's sensitive treatment to ring true and it plucked my heartstrings at the right pitch. Leo is 17 and enjoying many firsts in life: love, sexual experience, job, playing harmonica, and alcohol. It's a coming of age story taking place in 1970 with the Korean War in the background. Leo lives in a small mill town in Massachusetts. His mother passed away from cancer when he was a child and he was raised by his hard-working but ...more
Lacey
It always stuns me that I rarely hear people sing the praises of this book. I usually have to reassure myself that it's just because people haven't heard of this book, but then I'm left wondering why that is, when it is so, so good. The protagonist, Leo, is written with such clarity and precision that you can't help feeling that you are him...or that you're 100% head over heels passionately in love with him. This is no easy task for an author to accomplish.

In many ways, this book encapsulates th
...more
Booknblues
Leo Sayer the young protagonist in Andre Dubus III's book the Bluesman is a young man coming of age in the time of social upheaval of the Vietnam era. Like many young man of that age his interest is sex, passion and music while trying to discover who he is and who he is going to be. Much to his delight he discovers sex with his girlfriend Allie Donovan. While being tutored by Allie on essential knowledge of the opposite sex, Leo is guided by his three father figures on the meaning of life. Leo's ...more
Matt
Despite giving this 4 stars I was kind of disappointed in it. The writing and mood of the book are great. Dubus does a great job of having that bluesy feeling permeate the story and really makes it feel poignant.

However. This is basically an incredibly un-unique story about angsty teens, summer love, and thinking about their future. A pretty standard and plain bildungsroman. What happens in this story has happened to millions of kids and been told in hundreds of books. The romance is standard pu
...more
David
This one is my favorite of this particular Dubus thus far. The lines are simple and clean, beautiful yet mournful. The characters and what they think and do really get under the skin. A lot of people may prefer "House of Sand and Fog," but I felt a much stronger pull from this one. There's just something about it that resonates more deeply with me.
Pat
After the stunning "House of Sand and Fog," I guess I was a bit let down by this coming-of-age story set in small-town Mass. in the late '60s. I certainly remember the times when the nation was teetering in its support for Nam and boys were sweating having to register for the draft.

Leo just seems to float through life, buffeted by whatever wind blows his way. I never really CARED about him as a protagonist. The ease with which he becomes a harmonica virtuoso is laughably in accurate, and I never
...more
Lukas
I love this novel. The characters have a pulse of their own. The author writes with finesse and soul. I highly recommend it
Andre Dumas
This was just OK for me. Dubus' first novel is nowhere near as provocative or beautifully written as House of Sand and Fog but the characters are still well defined and worth getting to know. My main disappointment is that the more interesting themes---communism, even blues music seemed pushed aside for the rather flat and drab teenage romance at the novel's center. Their relationship seemed to take off in .5 seconds and oftentimes felt immature. This would have worked if the novel was in first ...more
Ian
I really enjoyed this novel. Set in late 1960's small town America - Massachusetts to be precise - it is primarily a tale about the relationship between a naive, romantic 17 year old boy and a much more grounded 16 year old girl. The boy is Leo, the Bluesman of the title and the girl is called Ellie.

It's a fairly simple tale of boy meets girl set against the prevailing themes of late 60's America: the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam war and the Summer of Love. But these are all just ripples i
...more
Sally Pearce
Mar 14, 2011 Sally Pearce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dubus III lovers.
Shelves: read-in-2011
BLUESMAN is Dubus's first novel. It's not well known like THE HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG and THE GARDEN OF LAST DAYS. This is a true coming-of-age story. Leo is about to turn 18 and he loves Allie. It is a summer of love for both of them with all of the angst and good and bad that such love brings. The time is 1967, deep into the Vietnam War (which we all know wasn't really a war). All the pathos and joy of first love is explored in detail. To tell any more would spoil the story.

I loved this book, es
...more
Andrew Smith
This writer never fails to engage me, to make me care. This book, an early output from him, took me a while to get into. The story of a working class boy coming of age in New England in the 60's was interesting enough but I found the detailed musical descriptions distracting at first. I got used to these (though I never really understood them) and grew to understand how important they were in understanding the culture of the family group the boy was living in. By the end of the story I was tenta ...more
Ben
Not as polished as his later work, but an excellent coming of age novel set during the late 1960s. My favorite book by Dubus remains his memoir, Townie.
Niki
This was really a three and half stars for me. I thought the author did a good job developing the characters, and I like that the ending was not tied up with a pretty bow. The book reminds the reader how teenagers make impetuous decisions that often force them to grow up quickly. This was a sweet coming of age story.
Ida
A wonderfully written story about coming of age in the 'summer of love'. Andre Dubus III handles the intense issues with gentle honesty. Leo's passion for the blues is so beautifully and fully described that the music seemed to seep from the pages. I truly relished this heartfelt book.
Dave Gaston
A stormy coming of age tale told with depth and honesty. A beautifully written book. To describe on paper the real soul and the welled up emotion behind a blues tune is a gift and a true accomplishment. Dubus uses simple words to deliver electric dialog and vivid descriptions. (12/31)
Paul Simon Grimsley
this was a beautiful read -- one of those unexpected finds that i took home from the library as much for the cover art as the blurb. definitely worth it. it has a voice that people would probably describe as authentic -- i think warm and resonant might be a better description.
Mary L.
A gritty book about "working" people, their lives, their dreams. Similiar to everyone's reality; there are no happy ever after endings, just an accurate portrayal of life. As with any Andre Dubus III book it is well written.
Stephanie
Okay, but not something I would read again. I don't know what it was about the author's style of writing, but it just didn't pull me in. I didn't like the character of Allie either...she just ticked me off.
Jennifer
I loved Dubus' novel The House of Sand and Fog, so I was hoping for similar brilliance. Instead, this is a mediocre book about a boy's first love during the Vietnam War era.
Renée
Leo was fantastic to follow, but I couldn't handle Allie. I think Dubus III really understood his protagonist, but Allie was a flip-flop of antagonist and antihero.
Halle
Andre Dubus III fiction always transports me into the flesh and blood of the story. Not sure why he couldn't do the same thing with his autobiography / memoir...
Matt ONeil
Reminds me very much of my youth in Boston. Dubus has a casual style that carries you along his stream of conciousness. He can get heavy but - it works.
Tina
highly recommended. another classic Dubus III, coming of age saga with beautiful,heartwarming vulnerability that is SO Dubus!
Joe Tynan
I actually read this a while ago. I know I liked it, but don't remember enough of the details to do a better review . . .
Billie
My least favorite of Dubus's novels but still a good read. I think he has grown a great deal as a writer since this book.
Colleen M Story
Another wonderful character study from this author. His stories stay with you long after you've finished them.
Ann
I love this coming of age story. It makes me want to listen to the blues and eat meatloaf!
John
I "released" this book down at Dallas road this morning (May 17/09). Now I will see where it goes.
Nick McCormack
Great Read. Interesting Characters. I enjouyed the adolescent male perspective. Very real.
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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 ...more
More about Andre Dubus III...
House of Sand and Fog Townie: A Memoir The Garden of Last Days Dirty Love The Cage Keeper and Other Stories

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