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Selected Stories

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  2,603 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
These twenty-three stories represent the best work of one of the finest and most emotionally revealing writers in America. Andre Dubus treats his characters--a bereaved father stalking his son's killer; a woman crying alone by her television late at night; a devout teenager writing in the coils of faith and sexuality; a father's story of limitless love for his daughter--wi ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published December 4th 1995 by Vintage (first published 1988)
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Glenn Russell
Jan 25, 2016 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing

Andre Dubus 1936-1999, Storyteller par exellence

Many of us involved with books – reading books, writing books, reviewing books - are well aware fiction writing is a unique calling. Therefore, it is something special when both father and son are accomplished authors. Kingsley Amis and son Martin come immediately to mind as do John Updike and son David; actually, we might think of another father-son fiction writing duo: Andre Dubus and son Andre Dubus 111, author of “House of Sand and
Oct 08, 2011 Veronica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Andre Dubus is my favorite American short story writer. In fact, he is one of my few favorite American writers period. He has the realism of Cheever and Carver, but more warmth than Carver and Hemingway. His prose is understated and never unnecessary; he is one of the few writers I have read where every word in every sentence, and every sentence is not only necessary, but meaningful as well (Tom Robbins and Virginia Woolf are others). He is worth reading for his prose alone.

Many, if not most, o
Moira Russell
Probably the last time I read this book straight through was sometime early in the last decade; I bought his kid's memoir on Kindle, and then saw the Selected Stories on sale and snapped them up. The best of Dubus on my ereader: how could I resist?

"Rose" remains as much of a heartstopper as when I first read it, in....God could it have been 1987? 1986? I think so, my copy of The Last Worthless Evening dates to then. My dad read me "A Father's Story" at around the same time, an amazing experience
Oct 09, 2007 Shaindel is currently reading it
Only two stories in so far (short stories are my solace when grading papers, so I grade a certain number then read a story, and so on). I might sell my soul to be able to write like this. Wow.
Jun 26, 2012 Daniel rated it it was ok
Dubus is often called a "writer's writer," which in general seems a dubious compliment. Are writers truly capable of identifying subtleties in a colleague's work that the average reader can't? When a writer is granted this appellation, I think it's more likely his work is viewed as stylish but slow-paced, elliptical, the equivalent of an art house film or avant-garde play. A select few--the cultured--will enjoy it; the rest of us stumble through wishing we were reading John Grisham. This is part ...more
Nov 02, 2010 Derek rated it really liked it
The stories collected here are weird.

Not weird in any predictable, clichéd sense, either. It's just that Dubus seems to be working with different material than so many other short story writers (Alice Munro seems like a notable exception, but their voices aren't exactly redundant of one another, either). Much of the work appearing in Selected Stories sounds more like a novel than a short story; the patience that Dubus exhibits (and ultimately asks of his readers, too) is extraordinary. He's usin
Chris Gager
Mar 08, 2017 Chris Gager rated it really liked it
Picked this one off my abundant shelves(I got even more books today from the transfer station!) and read the first story last night. My first awareness of the writer came from reading about the movie version of "In the Bedroom" a few years ago. I MAY have read something(s) of his in The New Yorker. Goodreads is acting up right now and I'm getting PISSED OFF! Screw it.

1 - "Miranda Over the Valley" - a mournful take on the risks of love and sex. Be careful out there! Includes a few words borrowed
Donna Kirk
he's kind of a creep.
Patrick Faller
Nov 10, 2011 Patrick Faller rated it really liked it
A truly regional writer, Dubus manages an expansiveness that comes out of an almost intimate understanding of his character's inner lives. He provides us with an example of a writer who makes what might have been unnecessary backstory relevant to the events of his narratives, as the psychological groundwork shaping his characters' attitudes and motivations. While at times Dubus seems to espouse a narrow view of gender relationships and can become at times a little reductive when writing about wo ...more
Jul 21, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing
The truly remarkable thing about this collection is the number of times I had to stop and reassess characters, examining their actions in relation to their thoughts and emotions. Many have said that Dubus writes all his characters with great sympathy, but I think what he does is even more striking: he writes them the way they wish they could write themselves. That's the way I can feel great pain for a man's childhood loss of his Marine brother, even after he has raped his ex-wife and set fire to ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Jun 14, 2011 Kasa Cotugno rated it really liked it
Dubus's acute eye pinpoints human behavior, cleanly and realistically. Credit has been given to Peter Yates, his mentor in Iowa, for development of his spare style, nailing with a few words situations that others have spent pages on. The writer he reminds me most of is Raymond Carver -- each was a chronicler of his age, but their stories are universal, never stale.
Aug 03, 2007 Leah rated it it was amazing
This is simply my most favorite short story collection ("A Father's Story" - read it) by one of my favorite authors.
It's about Catholicism, and the Northeast and once the South, and boys and girls and the things they do to each other. I will be reading more Dubus, for sure.
Jason M.
Jan 31, 2009 Jason M. rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jason M. by:
Wonderul. Absolutely freaking wonderful.
Feb 26, 2017 Di rated it really liked it
Just my kind of book. I usually choose to read women writers; yes, I know, I'm prejudiced. I've found that most men writers are plot driven. But this guy "gets" nuance, quiet desperation, inner thoughts. Think Alice Munro, Carol Shields, Ann Patchett.
Mar 06, 2013 Kristen rated it really liked it
Wahoo! I finally finished this one. I read this book of short stories slowly, to savor the writing with every beat of my wannabewriter heart. I developed a habit of reading a few pages each week before settling down to work on my own writing. It was my way to "get in the zone."

Someone wrote they would give their soul to write like Andrew Dubus and I just might concur. His stories instruct the heart in their rich protrayal of the human existence. Talk about character development! You find yourse
Apr 10, 2015 Laysee rated it really liked it
"...We don't have to live great lives, we just have to understand and survive the ones we've got…"

It took me weeks to read Andre Dubus’ “Selected Stories” because they were very good and very sad. Many of the stories left me reeling from the visceral fears and pains that could not be sidestepped. I had to take breaks and return when I felt ready for more raging sorrow.

Dubus excelled in his vivid and sympathetic rendering of the inner life of his characters. It was as though he had lived each of
Nov 03, 2014 Angelica rated it liked it
Shelves: good-books
All throughout reading this book I was thinking about what I would say about it, and now that I'm finished, I don't know what to say. Objectively, it's good. It's ripe with human emotion, folly, insight. The writing is well crafted. I think this may have to do with collections of short stories in general, so this isn't necessarily a fault of the book but a fault of the form--it took me ages to get through Selected Stories. And I think this is because it's difficult to keep the momentum going aft ...more
Aug 20, 2014 Trina rated it really liked it
As with many collections, some stories had greater impact than others, which is why I wavered between "I liked it" and "I liked it a lot". All of the stories unfolded slowly, in slow-burn mode; a very few of them fizzled and some of them exploded.

Overarching themes of Catholicism, sin, adultery, feminism, revenge, morality, love. The characters are impeccably written. They are neither entirely good nor bad, right or wrong --- but none of them seem very happy. Dubus didn't judge or side with any
Nov 18, 2007 Ryan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-twice
Reading this through a second time (the first time was many years ago), I definitely didn't feel the same rapture as the first time. In fact, I found many of the stories to be tedious and repetitious (we get it, you live in a small, working-class New England town, people cheat on each other and drink a lot). It could have been because reading this while in school really dragged it out longer than it should have, and I always get impatient with books if it takes me too long to read them. Some of ...more
Caspar Peek
Jan 06, 2015 Caspar Peek rated it it was amazing
Stories are so different from novels, or supposed to be, and it is rare that you find a writer who masters the genre as well as Dubus. One critic once wrote that it was as if Dubus "were able to breathe light into his stories", if I'm paraphrasing it right, and this is so true: it's a bit like looking at a Rembrandt painting and sensing that light illuminating the darker parts, the parts that had remained unseen until the painter made them visible. And so it is with Dubus perhaps. The people in ...more
Mar 14, 2014 Cassie rated it liked it
Finished this book a while ago, so some stories are little hazy, but I remember for the most part I was impressed. Dubus has a remarkable ability to write the female mind, seen best in The Fat Girl and The Graduation. Especially when reading The Fat Girl I was completely shocked that he so perfectly captured not only the relationship between women and food, but the relationship between daughters and mothers. There were other good stories; A Father's Story, although a little long and at times rep ...more
Aug 28, 2011 Brad rated it it was amazing
Magnificent. Dubus writes about burdens. Something terrible happens, and you have to get up the next day and live the rest of your life. To quote Hemingway, "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places." I have a hard time writing more about them, I can't do them any justice. I will say that for the first time in my life I understand catholicism, so there's something.

Reading this book after his son's book "Townie" has probably been the single best reading experi
Jan 12, 2009 David rated it really liked it
It's amazing to go from story to story in this collection and see the diverse kinds of characters Dubus is able to work with and still be able to be completely in their heads. The stalker ex-husband and the stalked ex-wife in "The Pretty Girl" are both as rich as each other and just as compelling (frighteningly so in the case of the ex-husband). Dubus works with an incredible amount of detail as well. By the end of a story I feel like I know everything I'd ever want to about that character's lif ...more
Apr 10, 2016 G rated it really liked it
I first read a Dubus collection of short stories more than a decade ago. I enjoyed it then. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting his work. It may be that his work had an even greater impact on me now because I'm older, hopefully more mature, and a father.

I was deeply moved by several stories. Other reviewers have talked about the power of "Killings," "Voices from the Moon," and "Adultery" and each is indeed a standout. "The Curse" had tremendous impact on me, as did "Sorrowful Mysteries." Stories li
Edward Rush
Feb 22, 2014 Edward Rush rated it it was amazing
I have bought this book on many occasions in my life. I first found it in "Skoob" Second Hand Books in London. I was attracted to it by the Edward Hopper picture on the cover. I bought subsequent copies in the US, Thailand and Germany. One of my copies has a burn on the cover from an incense stick that an Australian monk in rural Thailand used to read it in his kuti.

I've said all this because this book has been with me throughout my adult life. I can't imagine a year when I will not revisit the
Jun 22, 2008 Ellen rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ellen by: Bradin Farnworth
Shelves: catholicism
I was surprised how quickly I flew through these stories. After each one ended, I immediately wanted to start reading the next. I found his sentences to be plain, a bit boring at times, but that almost didn't matter, because there was some kind of inexplicable tenderness in each one. Many of the characters are Catholics grappling with guilt, sexuality, suffering, divorce, etc. in the context of the faith. Walker Percy once said, when asked what his latest book was about, that it was "about the s ...more
This was my introduction to Dubus' work and I was mightily impressed, particularly by the longer stories ('Rose', 'Voices From the Moon'), particularly 'Adultery' which, to me, artfully conveyed the difference between sin and crime. In al of the stories, the love they make and the drugs they take were insightfully described. Some readers seem to pick up on this line from 'Voices From the Moon' and I can see why: '...we don't have to live great lives, we just have to understand and survive the on ...more
Ben Z.
Aug 15, 2012 Ben Z. rated it it was amazing
Dubus is one of the greatest American short story writers, despite never gaining the notoriety or success of contemporaries like Chandler, Cheever or Updike--all of whom where heavily influenced by his work and style. Dubus is often referred to as "The American Che

The stories are largely tragic and the characters are ugly. The writing is unpretentious and the stories are perfectly constructed. Some of the works ("The Townies", "The Pretty Girl", "The Curse") will stick in your head well a
Tom Hill
Dec 06, 2015 Tom Hill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Perhaps my favorite writer. Certainly my favorite short story writer. "A Father's Story" alone is a masterpiece. Dubus often writes of everyday people's tragedy, but he does so with such warmth and compassion that his character's lives never seem ugly or completely hopeless. There's beauty in the way he depicts human frailness and sadness, both through his prose and his characterizations. For me, the only writing equal to Dubus's fiction is his non-fiction (read 'Broken Vessels'!) One might also ...more
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Award-winning author Andre Dubus II (1936–1999) has been hailed as one of the best American short story writers of the twentieth century. Dubus’s collections of short fiction include Separate Flights (1975), Adultery & Other Choices (1977), and Dancing After Hours (1996), which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Another collection, Finding a Girl in America, features the story ...more
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“we don’t have to live great lives, we just have to understand and survive the ones we’ve got.” 7 likes
“It is not hard to live through a day, if you can live through a moment. What creates despair is the imagination, which pretends there is a future, and insists on predicting millions of moments, thousands of days, and so drains you that you cannot live the moment at hand. ("A Father's Story")” 3 likes
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