Tim Nason's Reviews > Selected Stories

Selected Stories by Andre Dubus
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M 50x66
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did not like it
bookshelves: american-realism, new-england

October 10, 1999 – Dubus's characters endure unplanned pregnancy, divorce, childraising, childhood, bodily functions, death in the family, drinking, smoking, adultery. Here is life as we know it, portrayed with tones of brute stoicism.

The stories are long, hypnotic in detail, relentless in dull acceptance. Life-changing crises are parried with a phone call, a long drink, a calm smoke, peeing then wiping. My question is, who cares?

I yearn for a sense of exchange, dialogue, identity that is necessary to answer the question, “Whose story is this?”

On the side of realism, his characters are not exemplary; these are not stories about saints. These are not biographies, official or unofficial, of great thinkers, doers and shakers; these are stories about himself, I guess, and the people who live in his neighborhood. Unfortunately, the neighbors have few passions, no ideals, no ambitions or plans, never experience excitement or interest, never go anywhere even when they travel, never feel anything, especially when disaster strikes (which it always does). Here are stories about a hive of interchangeable drones who live, do their work (although their employment is incidental), get crushed, survive. The stories are exemplary only in that sense: they are stories of survival, of endurance.

Dubus creates the tone of perseverance through accumulation of relevant (and irrelevant) detail, through long sentences and very long paragraphs, through dialogue (which rarely occurs) that is clipped and enigmatic, but often overlong and deadening.

The characters in Dubus’s fiction are so very competent in their misery. They always know what to feel, what to do; they never experience moments of true weakness, true surprise or true surrender.

I am so irritated by these insufferably competent sufferers that I miss the achievement of Dubus, which is the realism, the trueness to his characters’ limited vision, his portrayal of ordinary people undergoing common, typical, everyday disasters.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 10, 1999 – Finished Reading
December 2, 2018 – Shelved
December 19, 2018 – Shelved as: american-realism
December 19, 2018 – Shelved as: new-england

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message 1: by Midwest (new)

Midwest Geek Your last paragraph left me curious. Which works by Dubus did you really like?

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