I was particularly excited about this book because I went to school at Bradford (decades after Andrew Dubus) and I interned with Andre Dubus's publisher. Lots of other little intersections made me interested in their lives, not just their fiction. However, this book wasn't what I was looking for. In fact, it makes me look at Andre Dubus III completely differently.
The focus for most of the book is on his horrible childhood and how weightlifting and fighting (street fighting, not boxing) gave him confidence. It's the sort of testosterone-heavy story that I usually avoid at all costs. I really could have used an adult perspective throughout the book—most of the time it's so claustrophobically inside his own adolescent head that it seems his adult self continues to think this way. Even when he has an "epiphany" towards the end, it comes off as ridiculous and makes me wonder if he ever actually grew up.
Worse, the writing is awkward, meandering, and repetitive. It jumps back and forth through time for no reason except that it was badly edited. If this is the story that's been fighting to get out all this time, I'd think he'd spend a little more effort making it as good as his fiction.