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Dirty Love

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  2,557 ratings  ·  455 reviews
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"—tangle
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 7th 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Andrew Campbell
Astutely observed, devastating, and almost completely worthless to me. The prose thunders with the certainty of This Is How People Live, and yet I have to ask, Is it? Really? My life is hardly whitewashed, but the tawdry philandering on display here is nowhere to be found within my pages... all I'd ask is just a little levity, a little glimpse of something other than the disappointment that we all end up being to ourselves. I believe there's more to life than that, and if there's not I certainly ...more
Hello there! Oh, you say you are easily offended and close minded? The only genre you live and breathe is chick-lit? You get book recommendations from your uterus?

I suggest you read something else.

Luckily I was prepared to deal with the way my buddy, Andre, would probably leave me feeling. Honestly, I kind of like heartbreak with no happy ending. And I guess while I am being honest, Andre and I are not actually buddies (although I wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating crackers if you know what
Brenda Ayala
This book, my friends, represents what we call the "human condition". Four stories follow the lives of people who have to contend with the uglier parts of life and love. There's a continuing theme in all of them, and I think it's fairly obvious. The main character of each story has to do some soul searching in order to define what it is that makes them feel the way they do.

In the first story, the man must decide how he will ultimately deal with his wife's infidelity, and whether he will take an
This book of four loosely connected stories is an outstanding read. I devoured it during two lengthy plane rides from JFK NYC to San Juan PR and back. Dubus writes brilliantly about people and understands that within everyone there are good and bad qualities that are frequently walking down the road at the same time. Dubus wrote a great memoir Townie, which among other things was a very thoughtful appraisal of his father a great writer with many bad habits but still captured his Dubus senior's v ...more
If you have read any other works by Dubus, then you know he gravitates towards the depressing. This book of short stories on love is no different. Calling them love stories is pushing it, they are the aftermath of love, when love dies, or goes wrong. The writing is great, but I felt that a lot of characters were flat. The most fleshed out one to me was "Dirty Love". I would have probably enjoyed this more if he had concentrated on one story and made that the whole novel. If you're gonna complete ...more
Scott Campbell
Well, the title is half right. It's "dirty" -- dirty as in there's a lot of sex, and dirty in that it's all complicated and messy. As for the title's other half, there's some "love," sure, but it's also complicated and messy.

Dubus is a fine writer, of this there can be no doubt. But while the prose is strong and his insight is spot on, this indictment of modern relationships in 4 parts is difficult to read, because the characters are simply unlikable. Their shallowness, their self-centeredness,
Susan Oleksiw
Andre Dubus III has the rare ability to take what seems an empty life and grace it with depth and wonder and suffering, making us stop to look at strangers with greater awareness and compassion. In this collection of four stories/novellas, Dubus examines the life of men and women in the worn-out towns in southern New Hampshire that people drive through. This is where life has passed people by, and the locals feel it.

The stories are linked by setting and characters. A minor character in one emer
Ron Charles
The title of this new book by Andre Dubus III, “Dirty Love,” is a bit of a tease. But whatever it takes to get you into his fantastic collection of novellas is fair game. Besides, there’s plenty of grungy sex between these covers, if that’s what you’re looking for; it’s just that Dubus is so starkly honest about our flailing attempts for connection that he drains away any eroticism and leaves only painful longing and regret.

Millions know Dubus from his 1999 novel, “House of Sand and Fog,” a Nati
David Carr
One of the first compelling fiction pursuits I undertook was to read all of John Updike. This began early in the sixties when he had just written a handful of books. I later dropped the pursuit -- though I did keep up with most things Updike -- but it gave me a steady theme of delight and anticipation as a reader when I had none in my life. The Pennsylvania stories, the Maple stories, the Rabbit novels, the sex novels all were pointed and direct, and close to the classes and behaviors of people ...more
Mark Stevens
Interviewed on the Bookworm podcast, Andre Dubus III said he has this "secret belief" or "not-so-secret belief" that most of us are just "winging our lives."

Dubus added: "We are doing the best we know how to do and we are still kind of stunned that we are where we are....Man, I just think it’s hard to live a good, noble loving life but we do our best every day.”

Dubus' enormous empathy for these lives and these plights give “Dirty Love” raw power.

In “Listen Carefully as Our Options Have Changed
A collection of four short novellas by the author of The House of Sand and Fog this book, Dirty Love centers on four different relationships and or the aftermath of such. The stories with characters all centered around the beach area of New Hampshire in the summer introduce us to broken marriages, cheating wives, cheating husbands, lonely old men, women who settle, and in the title story a young woman who is trying to outrun a mistake that in the age of cell phone video will never go away.

Larry Hoffer
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Andre Dubus III's House of Sand and Fog was truly one of the most moving and affecting books I've read in the last 15 years, and the film adaptation was powerful and well-acted. Dubus so perfectly told the story of flawed people trying to get what they wanted and felt they were entitled to, with disastrous consequences.

He brings that same literary power (without utter tragedy) to Dirty Love, his collection of tangentially linked novellas about people who want to be happy
Beautifully written, Andre Dubus takes us into the minds, lives and loves of people who resemble ourselves. What is it to love? What makes love endure? Why does it die? Why do we hurt the people we say we love?

We know in the heady, early stages when we are consumed with our love for a person that even their faults are endearing, they are everything to us. Those of us who have known this intensity are fortunate.

But as time goes on, and lusty love cools to the temperature of possibly becoming end
Dubus writes beautiful sentences, and he knows how to keep your eyes locked on the page. I admire him a lot for creating a fictional world in which technology actually exists, and for trying to capture how our smartphones change the way we have sex and exist (although I WISH he'd stuck with actual devices, instead of inventing the iEverything—it's such an embarrassing dad move). Still, it's tough to start afresh with each new set of characters, and most of these short stories/novellas felt unfin ...more
Nothing like cracking open an ostensibly good novel and discovering that it's nothing but the most banal and tiresome aspects of real life gilded in clever prose and stuck on a pedestal. The third section would work as a novella -- it actually has something to teach us about the experience of a generation whose digitally-mediated heartbreaks and self-sabotage we don't yet understand. The other two inspire no insights beyond the same vaguely depressed feeling that's easily obtainable by reading t ...more
Loosely connected characters from one short story to the next? Hardly. I kept waiting and waiting for something to bring this all together, to show how their lives are all interconnected, but it never happened. The last story is just worthless, droning on and on. I don't mind depressing, but at least finish one of the stories.

I really enjoyed House of Sand and Fog, so this was an incredible disappointment.
Kevin Catalano
You don't need me to tell you that Dubus is an incredible writer, and I mostly agree with James Lee Burke that he "may be the best writer in America." As a writer myself, the way Dubus articulates emotion is humbling; I'm almost embarrassed that I try to write at all given how well he does it.

I'd have given Dirty Love five stars but for two reasons. One is that I was disappointed by the dust-jacket's description that these novellas are linked, that the characters "walk out the back door of one s
Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III

Dubus brings us four novellas, Listen Carefully As Our Options Have Changed, Marla, The Bartender and the last, namesake of the group, Dirty Love. Each a snapshot of a segment of a person's life, a pivotal change of their lives. This is Life on the ground floor, told in a beautiful, stylized prose that keeps the reader enthralled, despite the ordinariness of the actual tale. Ordinary in the sense that it is at least part of what we all, as humans, go through in some
Richda Mcnutt
"At first there is only the coffee table in front of him, a swath of sunlight across its glass surface." Dubus seduced me with his opening sentence, and not for the first time. His books are uncomfortable to read and haunt you after reading them - but, oh, can the man ever write! Love can be soiled in many ways - by infidelity, a desire to control, betrayal of mutual assumptions, a devaluing of the love that you need and are offered so graciously and unselfishly. And sometimes it can be washed a ...more
I'm a big fan of Andre Dubus III, have been ever since I read The House of Sand and Fog (thanks Oprah!). Also loved Garden of Last Days and Townie. I was privileged to meet Andre at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, N.H. when he was on his book tour for Townie. I will read anything he writes. When I first discovered that Dirty Love was a book of 4 novellas, I did hesitate for a second since I don't really enjoy short stories and novellas very much. But I'm glad I went with my instinct and read thes ...more
Andrew Smith
Well, this guy can certainly write! This book has received mixed reviews, mainly based on the fact that:
1) it's depressing - well, it is… a bit
2) it's made up of short stories that have no conclusion, no tidy ending - again true, but (in my opinion) so what!
When I started reading this I hadn't read the blurb so I didn't realise this wasn't a novel. So it came as a shock when I worked this out and for a while I did wish he'd take me back to the first story and tell me what happened next. But I go
I need a book to take camping that I don't have to plug in. I've heard Dubus speak at the Newburyport, MA Literary Festival. He's a wonderful speaker and a great writer. Although the reviews of this book are mixed, I want to read it. I find him fascinating.
Well, I finished it. What a grim view of love and life we are given to ponder. Dev is particularly heartbreaking. She grew up too fast and was left with little to help her cope in any positive way. It feels to me as if she will be forever thir
Robert Keck
I loved this book - every supposition resonates with me. Andre Dubus III has paralleled excessive desires for sex, love, money and work to unfulfilled lives. These intertwined stories prove and re-prove the point that confused people who seek internal and external validation through yearning will not be happy.

Anyone who read 'the house of sand and fog' knows Dubus doesn't write happy little stories and these stories are bleak but there is a beauty in the flawed characters - especially the heartb
The title story elevated this collection. The stories are interconnected, but so loosely that I'm not sure they needed to be. They're depressing, in characteristic Andre Dubus fashion. But what sucks for this collection is that they're deathly boring, all barring the title novella. Devon, Hollis and Francis, I cared for. The rest of the selfish creeps of this NH town, I didn't. Marla is the second best, because it's got a slightly bearable protagonist. But I didn't think it any good. 3 stars, fo ...more
Jessica Treadway
Beautifully written novellas. I thought "Marla" was just about perfect.
Four long interwoven stories. In “Listen Carefully as Our Options Have Changed” a project manager has his world turned upside down when his wife has an affair. He is forced into self-reflection and the arms of a woman whose company becomes complex. In “Marla” an overweight young woman finds herself in an unhappy love affair, but makes her final decision based on what others think is right. In “The Bartender” a man marries a woman better than he is, and may be fated to lose. And in “Dirty Love” t ...more
In these short stories, outwardly linked by a thin web of acquaintances, and proximity to northeast Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, Dubus has seamlessly layered a comprehensive study of betrayal, struggle, and resignation. I really wanted the individual stories to continue as I was moved by the particular characters, but the whole felt complete. In the hands of a lesser craftsman, the constant switching between a character's time frames within the same paragraph would be jarring and co ...more
four short stories - a man discovers his wife has been having an affair, a man cheats on his pregnant wife. i love dubus' writing but really didn't enjoy reading these stories .
Alan Chen
Dubus is talented this book is a waste of his talent. 4 stories, the last being the longest, tangentially linked, and all about love/sex gone awry. I'm not oppose to stories being bleak but it has to go somewhere. Either it needs a redeeming quality or it should illuminate some part of human experience in a new or electrifying way. These stories didn't. They are well wrought mini character studies that were the different heads on the same hydra. They essentially told the same story or gave off t ...more
Talented writer but depressing stories. A slow, joyless journey. Even as I admired the writing I was constantly resisting being pulled under his suffocating blanket of loss, depression and lethargy. Not for me. Stopped midway. Maybe 5 stars for ability and 1 star for tone averages out at a 3.

Points out why star rating system on Goodreads is almost worthless to me. Also, personally, I never want a rehash of a plot in a review. Five writers could write the same plot line completely different ways
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Interview with Andre Dubus III 1 7 Oct 17, 2014 09:13AM  
  • A Permanent Member of the Family
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  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • The Color Master: Stories
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  • Honeydew
  • Duplex
  • Enon
  • Problems with People: Stories
  • The Liar's Wife: Four Novellas
  • Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry
  • The Two Hotel Francforts
  • Bobcat and Other Stories
  • A Guide to Being Born: Stories
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 Bluesman The Cage Keeper and Other Stories

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“ seemed almost inconceivable that in his short marriage to Althea she had, in her quiet way, left him feeling not only worthy, but exceptional, a man not only capable of being a real poet, but a husband and father too.” 2 likes
“He tried to remember her ever being this way before. In her voice--almost overexuberant--was not simply holiday cheer but joyous relief, like some terminally ill patient who's just been told she's not sick anymore.” 1 likes
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