Alex English's Reviews > The Cage Keeper and Other Stories

The Cage Keeper and Other Stories by Andre Dubus III
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Feb 20, 2011

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The Cage Keeper and other Stories by Andre Dubus is a colllective reading of lives that fall between the cracks. A beautiful arrangement of strange, tragic, and liberating things, Andre Dubus uses his direct, and sometimes humorous language, to tell stories no one thinks to tell. Starting with The Cage Keeper”, a worker in a halfway house is kidnapped by an inmate and friend, and forced to drive him to freedom. The second, “Duckling girl” is the touching and heart-wrenching story of a girl who escapes the abuse of her father only to find more abuse in a pair of young men. “Wolves in the Marsh” is a story of a young boy, hunting alone and his self discovery. “Forky” is a haunting story of a man struggling with life after being released from prison. “Mountains” is a story of a waitress who betrays her lover, who is a war vet dealing with PTSD. In “White Trees, Hammer Moon” a man is wildly unprepared for a family camping trip, as his mind is occupied with his looming prison sentence. And finally ending with a young man's acceptance of an ending love affair in, “The Last Dance”.
Andre Dubus uses clear, concise and to-the-point descriptions and language to tell his stories. In his story, “The Cage Keeper” his quick descriptions of the people around him and his tenderly mysterious characters paint a colorful portrait for his readers to walk around in. In “The Duckling Girl”, my heart broke for his character Lorilee. His messy descriptions made me queasy and anxious as he touches at something so sensitive for any female to read. Andre Dubus definitely has taken a liking to touching on sensitive topics, things that cause the most amount of tension for the reader and his characters; something to make you lose sleep. This is the story that affected me the most, maybe because in all his subtle language his words hit so hard. Maybe that is one of his faults, at least in my opinion; I found that this is not one of those books that I “can't put down”. In fact, in reading it I often found myself having to get up and walk away from it, finding the material too much to handle all in one sitting, but it did not fail to intrigue me.
“Forky” tore me apart with the Dubus' emotional characters. His word choice and sentence structure like, “I turned and stuck it in his face and watched him turn to butter” contributes to a haunting narration of a man released from prison. He is so casual in his descriptions that it catches me off guard as a reader. “White Trees, Hammer Moon” was another favorite of mine because it was also so rich with emotion. The main character is being sent away to prison for a year and is camping with his family before hand. This story, again, is filled with such subtle emotion from the genuine characters Dubus creates.
“The Last Dance” Was a little difficult for me to get into because I found all the dialogue to be overwhelming and difficult to read and understand. The characters weren't as relateable as I would have liked them to be. In “Mountains” I found myself hating the main character, Sally, mostly because I sympathized with Rick. I did not like what was happening and the story, beside that was really hard to get into.
All in all Andre Dubus does a remarkable job at creating genuine characters, telling lively, tragic and heart-wrenching stories, and leaving a lasting impression.
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