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Broken Vessels

4.34  ·  Rating Details  ·  317 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Written between 1977 and 1990, universally acclaimed when they appeared in Godine hardcover, and exploring subjects close to home and close to the bone, these twenty-two diverse essays reveal the spiritual strength and shrewdly lyrical prose for which Andre Dubus has been recognized worldwide.

Personal but never indulgent, sensitive but never maudlin, these forays into Dubu
Paperback, 195 pages
Published November 1st 1992 by David R. Godine Publisher (first published August 1st 1992)
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This book devastated me. I think it's impossible for any two different people to read this in the same way. It's a book of personal essays, and they're personal for the reader, as well. I can't recommend this book enough, but take care that you don't read it if you're in an emotionally weak place, because the way it grabs you personally is by forcing you to face mortality and human frailty and to recall your most traumatic experiences. Or maybe you should read it when you're hurting...if you're ...more
Jason Koivu
Aug 12, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Dubus came to my college, read from this book, spoke about it for a little bit and then did a meet-and-greet signing with the audience. I don't remember much about the book aside from really enjoying this collection of short stories...and also making a fool out of myself. I stepped up to his table, stammered about how much I loved his work (I barely knew it) and when I finally ran out of words and shut up he just kinda stared at me. After that embarrassing scene I vowed I'd never go all giddy fo ...more
Mar 25, 2012 Malbadeen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone or no one, I can't decide.
Recommended to Malbadeen by: Sp
Shelves: memoir-ish
Part of me wants to wrap this book in beautiful paper and leave it at the door of all the people I care about, think highly of, or want to know more. Part of me is scared that if I did that people would read it, see all of it and react with anything less than amazement.
I'm trying to find words (honest, moving, painful) but they all seem ridiculously trite. I keep thinking, "naked". If I actually had the guts to share this book with someone, hand it from my hand to theirs and say the truth, "I l
Mar 09, 2008 Alexis rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alexis by: Richard
Shelves: non-fiction
The last essay, the "title essay", is absolutely amazing and had me near tears at one point. I admire his brutal honesty and self-reflection and lack of self-pity.
Apr 28, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
It took me a little while to warm to this little book of short stories and essays by Dubus. You need to read it in an unhurried, contemplative frame of mind, and savour the unique expression of this quiet voice of introspection and contemplative calm.
Once you find this place, though, in yourself and your day, this little book is a thing of beauty and inspiration, a pleasure which steals upon you in your chair, and moves you, in the end, to tears with the love and honesty, sensitivity and unique
The Bruce
May 14, 2013 The Bruce rated it it was amazing
There are only a handful of people on this earth who I can connect with as well as Dubus connected with me. His ability to extract significance from the ordinary is hopeful and empowering as we struggle to make significant our own ordinary situations. Dubus has put words to a level of depth that this life holds which I have suspected existed for years.

"So many of us fail: we divorce our wives and husbands, we leave the roofs of our lovers, go once again into the lonely march, mustering our cour
Ryan Williams
May 06, 2015 Ryan Williams rated it really liked it
There aren't many essay collections on my bookshelf, since so few of them merit re-reading. This volume is an exception. Almost everything in it is gold, right from Tobias Wolff's introduction. Classic essays here on short story writing, on Dubus' friend Richard Yates, and the pitfalls of publishing in Penthouse and The New Yorker. (The former demands fewer commas.) He is one of the few American writers that makes baseball sound interesting.

False notes are few. However, there is one essay that j
Oct 17, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
To say I loved this book is so far from adequate. I have been moved by everything dubus has written and this was no exception. It broke me open, as all good nooks, essays, stories should. It will be a while before I can reread this, but that to me is also a sign of a powerful book.
David R. Godine
Jan 22, 2014 David R. Godine rated it it was amazing
"Dubus writes with searing candor, grace and tenderness in these autobiographical essays."
-Publishers Weekly

"Despite his occasional sermonettes, however, Dubus remains one of America's best and most prolific short-story writers, and Broken Vessels contains as much good work as anything ever written.

Dubus, like the characters in his best stories, doesn't seek to prevail in the material world, but only in the abstract regions of his own heart. It's this sense of spiritual integrity which gives Dub
Sep 21, 2015 Tori rated it it was amazing
I read this alongside Once the Shore.

To tell you the truth, I don't know why I liked it so goddamn much. It struck a nerve, a chord, all that jazz.

It felt, above all else, human, and unknowing--which is hard to capture in the personal essay. Too often, we get pompous narrators that analyze everything with too much certainty. This was different.

Jan 28, 2016 Maya rated it really liked it
Excellent collection of essays. Especially loved On Charon's Wharf, an essay about how we interact with our loved ones. Will return to that one many times.
Jun 04, 2013 Lucynell rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
These non-fiction stories are ranging from the mildly interesting to the deeply personal, at which point they become most effective. We get stories on running, baseball, traveling across America on train, as well as feminism, family, ghosts (yep) and the writer's awful road accident.
Andre Dubus' style is kind of hard to pinpoint, yet he is always passionate, even when in doubt. This was actually my second attempt at reading this collection and for the life of me I can't remember why I gave up t
Oct 03, 2008 Duc rated it really liked it
Recommended to Duc by: writers
I discover Andre Dubus's writer in a book call 'Writers and Company'. (side notes to the programmers at Goodreads: It would be nice to link a book on here.) Dubus's essays are not the typical essay. To me they are more like personal stories and it's not fictionalized which is even better. It's like he's talking to me and yet the descriptions are like a story sometimes and they are parables.
He's had a hard life but his spirit is amazing. There are tragedies that he lived through and wrote
Sep 05, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book so I'm near tears after reading the final essay, as Dubus described in heart-wrenching detail his relationship with his daughters after he was crippled by a tragic accident. Throughout all his essays, Dubus uses a simple and clear voice but makes stunning observations about life -- that's why his essays affect me so deeply. I can tell I will be re-reading many of these essays multiple times.
Sep 30, 2015 AN rated it really liked it
Shelves: warmth, uneasy, strange, memoir, him
It has taken me quite a long time to finish this book. I've never meant to read it in one sitting though. I don't think I can write something simple, yet powerful enough for the book and for Dubus. The book itself is a whole new experience of looking into the "so-called" adult life, which is harsh, contradictory, but warm. It deserves anything much more than just a try.
Dec 29, 2008 James rated it really liked it
This man knows how to talk to us in words. I am now humbled that a friend told me my emails often remind her of Dubus. his clarity in thought and style make you feel as if he is sitting down across the table from you and also alone, in his room, typing just for you.
A must-read for those thinking about life and loss and the world.
Nov 23, 2012 Brad rated it it was amazing
More than any other author, Dubus captures the spirit of people. Others describe, but he has the gift of translating. Translating the complexities of life into the simple and tangible. Translating because you thought you knew that thing, that shape, but you realize you didn't, and he shows you what it really is.
Jan 16, 2014 Tobias rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read2014
This book. Dear lord, this book.
William Torgerson
Feb 27, 2011 William Torgerson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I love to read about the way Dubus crafts stories. There's also a funny essay in this one where he knows when he comes to the point he won't sell to the New Yorker. "Well, there goes the New Yorker." That moment freed him up to write the story like he wanted to.
Nov 11, 2014 dw rated it liked it
Of the two collections (Meditations from a Moveable Chair and Broken Vessels), I would recommend:

Song of Pity, Letter to Amtrak, Giving Up the Gun, Witness, Sketches at Home, and most especially, Broken Vessels (Part V of the book of the same name).
Jan 23, 2016 Darcy rated it it was amazing
This writer endlessly delights me. I have read his short stories before and was blown away. Now, having read essays about him and his experiences, I am fan for life. I would read anything this man writes. Thanks to Jen McCreary for the intro.
Gene Curry
Jul 02, 2009 Gene Curry rated it really liked it
A powerful collection of autobiographical essays written after Dubus lost his leg and the use of the other leg in an accident. This is a book that I have lent out many times and purchased several times.
May 08, 2008 Pamckenna rated it it was amazing
After the accident that killed the use of his legs, after the years of story writing, a collection of essays spanning his career, just a beautiful book, particularly the essay: On Charon's Warf...

Mar 21, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
Read my review at my blog.
Nov 04, 2013 Tina rated it it was amazing
excellent! one of my new favorites. Dubus SO knows how to be real and vulnerable in his writings. His style is an endearment...
Apr 29, 2012 Graham rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, essays
For the first half of the book, the essays were very hit or miss, but the last half was solid gold.
Jack Fenner
Jan 16, 2013 Jack Fenner rated it it was amazing
Passionate and sensitive writings on personal life stories. This is Dubus at his best.
Jes H
May 16, 2008 Jes H marked it as to-read
Okay, I am convinced; it has been added to my "to read" list.
Thanks for the suggestion.
Jeff Laughlin
Jul 20, 2007 Jeff Laughlin rated it really liked it
Short, descriptive personal essays with legs (though Mr. Dubus has none).
May 17, 2008 Jill marked it as to-read
Marie seems taken. How can I resist a review like hers?
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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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“So many of us fail: we divorce our wives and husbands, we leave the roofs of our lovers, go once again into the lonely march, mustering our courage with work, friends, half pleasures which are not whole because they are not shared. Yet still I believe in love's possibility, in its presence on the earth; as I believe I can approach the altar on any morning of any day which may be the last and receive the touch that does not, for me, say: There is no death; but does say: In this instant I recognize, with you, that you must die. And I believe I can do this in an ordinary kitchen with an ordinary woman and five eggs. The woman sets the table She watches me beat the eggs. I scramble them in a saucepan, as my now-dead friend taught me; they stand deeper and cook softer, he said. I take our plates, spoon eggs on them, we sit and eat. She and I and the kitchen have become extraordinary; we are not simply eating; we are pausing in the march to perform an act together, we are in love; and the meal offered and received is a sacrament which says: I know you will die; I am sharing food with you; it is all I can do, and it is everything.” 8 likes
“We receive and we lose, and we must try to achieve gratitude; and with that gratitude to embrace with whole hearts whatever of life that remains after the losses.” 8 likes
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