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Dirty Love

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  3,568 ratings  ·  558 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
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by W. W. Norton Company (first published October 7th 2013)
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Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
****4.5 Stars rounded up****I rarely read short stories but one of my favorite novels was House of Sand and Fog by this author. The stories in this series of novellas are both haunting and movingly told. Most characters grapple with themes of love, betrayal, secrets and lies. If you find novels that lack a conclusion frustrating then they probably won’t work for you. The novellas mostly just end…some of the characters simply walked away from their problems and hoped for the best. It’s not a happ ...more
Andrew Smith
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I dusted off my copy of a book I read a few years ago - a book I promised myself I'd read again. And I did. And I loved it just as much as I did when I read it for the first time.

I sometimes get phases when I'm obsessed by a particular writer and I'm in full Andre Dubus III mode at the moment. I've one more book to return to, The Garden of Last Days, which I think I'll save for another day.

He's addictive, is Andre, but I've had my fix for now - time to reluctantly move on. But I'll be back...

Campbell Andrews
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
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
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
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-favorites
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
Larry H
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David Carr
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written and depressing, Dirty Love is just as described in the synopsis. A group of four novellas, lightly bound together by characters from each that make cameo appearances in one story or another, this book made me glad all over again that I'm divorced, not in a relationship, and that my children grew up before the internet became such a dark and dangerous place. They barely missed it, and I shudder when I think of what teenagers deal with today when everything is so often bared (yes, pun ...more
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
These stories distil all the cruel, sad, terrible things we do to each other under the banner of love. Dubus really knows these characters, he inhabits them, he actually writes real-feeling female characters, from the anxiety-inducing Marla, to the so-real-it-hurts Devon, and that bartender that reckons he's a poet?? Oh mama. You've gotta go some tough places as a writer to lay this kind of truth down. I like how the stories overlap just ever so slightly. The general tone is hella bleak, all the ...more
Nov 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mark Stevens
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.

Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kevin Catalano
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't give very many books five stars. A book has to really wow me. "Dirty Love" by Andre Dubus III did. He has an uncanny ability to get inside the heads of his characters and bring the reader along for the ride as well. The work includes 4 novellas all centered around the complications and complexities of love. All unique stories, but related as well. Simple fantastic writing! ...more
I listened to the audiobook. I was thoroughly enjoying the novellas. . . but they just got more obscene as the book went on. By disc 7, I wasn't sure I would finish. I would give it higher marks for the first half though. ...more
Dylan Perry
Reread: May 2018
When Andre Dubus III is at the top of his game, his stories stick with you. Reading my original review would lead you to think I was somewhat tempered toward this book, but the truth is, it hasn't left me since I read it almost a year and a half ago. His work stands up so well to rereading. I picked up more of the subtler connections between the novellas this time around. The first and last stories are still my favorites, and despite the flaws of the two stories in the middle (I
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sunny Shore
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As the 5 represents, this is an amazing book. 4 novellas loosely stringed together by town and characters. But so much more. Dubus examines love at its most base and yet most complicated level. In the first, a husband finds out his wife has committed adultery; in the second, a 30 year old virgin learns about love, but learns some lessons along the way; a bartender/poet cheats on his loving, pregnant wife and in the fourth titled Dirty Love, we learn about Devon, an 18 year old HS dropout who is ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Richda Mcnutt
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Interview with Andre Dubus III 1 7 Oct 17, 2014 09:13AM  

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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

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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.” 3 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.” 2 likes
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