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Dirty Love Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (October 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393064654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393064650
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Award–winning novelist Dubus (The Garden of Last Days, 2008) debuted as a short story writer nearly 25 years ago. He now reclaims the form in an incisive collection of subtly linked tales set in a changing New Hampshire coastal town. With fresh energy and conviction, Dubus explores the demands and disappointments of desire and marriage, generating a critical mass of sensory detail and refined suspense. A desperately orderly man hires a detective to follow his longtime, suddenly unfaithful wife. Two overweight loners attempt to find the intimacy other couples seem to take for granted. A bartender posing as a poet and living on charm and evasiveness suddenly faces the realities of fatherhood. In the unforgettable novella “Dirty Love,” Devon is hounded out of high school when a dirty cell-phone video, recorded without her permission, is posted online. She seeks sanctuary with her great-uncle Francis, a retired teacher haunted by his experiences in the Korean War. Dubus’ emotional discernment, sexual candor, penetrating evocation of place, sensitivity to family conflicts, and keen attunement to the perils of our embrace of “iEverything”—from online sexual roulette to cyberbullying and violent video games—are electrifying, compassionate, and profound. These are masterful and ravishing tales of loneliness, confusion, betrayal, the hunger for oblivion, and the quest for forgiveness. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A seven-city author tour and major national media coverage will support the latest provocative book by best-selling Dubus. --Donna Seaman


“Reading these stories is like visiting a classic steakhouse where the coolly professional waiters don't hold your cultivated taste for high-concept haute cuisine against you, but rather decide to remind you what you've been missing by giving you one of the best dining experiences you've ever had.” (Jeff Turrentine - New York Times Book Review)

“First rate fiction by a dazzling talent. (starred review)” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Highly recommended…. Filled with heartbreak, slices of happiness, and unrelenting hope.” (Lisa Block - Library Journal)

“It’s that just-out-of-reach desire that creates such poignancy in each of these stories, including one about a philandering bartender named Robert, who likes to pretend he’s a poet. He’s not, but Dubus is. He’s got a transparent, easy style that’s never self-consciously lyrical but constantly delivers phrases of insight and gentle wit that lay open these characters without scalding them with irony, as we’ve come to expect from so many clever novelists.” (Ron Charles - Washington Post)

“I can think of no novelist who renders the gritty, down-and-out corners of New England better than Dubus, and those beautifully specific, contained slices of American life open into whole universes of love, violence, guilt, and betrayal.” (The New Republic)

“Powerful… lush.” (Anthony Doerr - Boston Globe)

“Fabulous…[Dubus’s] writing is as gorgeous as ever.” (Kim Curtis - Associated Press)

“[Dubus] writ[es] with…winning candor and intelligence.” (Mark Athitakis - Star Tribune)

“Staggeringly good… . Dubus can home in more quickly and efficiently on a character’s inner life than any writer I’ve encountered in recent memory.” (Jeff Turrentine - New York Times Book Review)

“Intimate short stories and novellas about the difficulty of sharing lives, about betrayal and fidelity and the emotional violence we inflict on the people we love.” (Nina MacLaughlin - Boston Magazine)

“Dubus delivers strong insights into bad behavior.” (Mary Pols - San Francisco Chronicle)

“Gorgeous.” (Chloe Schama - The New Republic)

“[N]obody does quiet desperation better than Dubus.” (The New Yorker)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

As others have mentioned, no real connection between stories either.
Joanne L.
This book felt like it was an unfinished draft; I feel the author did not try as hard or live up to his potential here.
M. ONeill
His short stories are so well developed I feel I have read a novel when done.
Teresa Salkin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Andre Dubus III has delivered an uncompromising book of short stories, though the title story is more like a novella. They are about hope and disillusion along with the human condition of wanting what is often out of reach.

'Listen Carefully as Our Options Have Changed' is about a man who finds out that his wife of almost 25 years has been cheating on him. She has been having an affair and is in love with her lover. It appears that all the husband's ideas about the quality of his marriage go up in smoke, at least from his wife's perspective.

'Marla' has always been a lonely, overweight girl. She's grown up to be a lonely, overweight woman who works as a teller in a bank. When she meets Dennis she is 29 years old and still a virgin. She is hopeful about their relationship but ends up feeling just as lonely and alone with him as she had felt prior to meeting him.

In 'The Bartender', Robert Doucette is a bartender and a would-be poet who marries Althea who is pregnant. He has been unable to follow through on anything in his life and commences to be unfaithful to Althea early on in their marriage.

Devon is the protagonist of 'Dirty Love'. She has come to live with her great-uncle Francis after having pictures of herself in a compromising position posted on the internet. She is trying to start anew. "She'd come to live with Francis to start clean. But how can anyone ever be clean with family? Blood is too dirty, dirty with love that can so easily turn to hate." She has also met, through Skype, a veteran soldier with whom she is having a relationship. When her father comes to visit Francis and tells him about Devon's past, her world is shattered.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Weiner on October 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Dubus is a master at depicting complicated people in distress & in this book he moves away from one of his themes; how money (or lack of) profoundly influences their choices. Money isn't an issue for these people, their lives are, & mostly they're in disappointing places. But for Dubus every day is a new beginning & as each of these loosely connected stories resolve there is a door that each character opens even if he's afraid to. Dubus tells us that there are no bad guys: he describes infidelity as a virus that affects some marriages & not others & he's not afraid to take on the pose so many artists assume when trying to impress the opposite sex. A brutal & soft book, probably the best "literary" fiction I've read this year.
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Format: Hardcover
I think the reason why I enjoyed this "collection" (is four stories a collection) so much was my ability to relate to each one, having seen a friend (or five) in similar situations. The first story where the husband treated his marriage as a work project rings too true, and the last story of the girl being so affected by something that made it on the internet is all too common in society today. To see what might be BEHIND the scenes in these situations was haunting, and some of the phrasing in the book struck me deeply.

And though this is not an uncommon device, I do like when story collections center on a single place and time so that the story intertwine, though in this case EVER so slightly. Just enough so I started to look for it.

Another commenter stated their disappointment that the stories seemed "unfinished" and that they wanted to know what happened next. I guess I prefer them unfinished, as then I can wonder.

And how often these days do we get to do that, where everything is neatly wrapped up in 24 or 48 minutes of television or 120 minutes of a movie?

Leave some space for wonder. These stories do just that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By sas on January 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First of all, Dubus is a really good writer, comparable to John Updike; I enjoy his descriptions which carry the reader along seamlessly into the world he is creating. Unlike Updike, however, at least in this collection of stories, Dubus is unsuccessful at presenting us with a single character we can empathize with. While all of the main characters suffer immensely, do stupid things and are victims of their many inner weaknesses,none was even remotely likable with the possible exception of Francis in the last story in the collection. Updike succeeded so well because he made the reader identify with his [often] disreputable characters and thus sympathize and have compassion for them. Dubus does not succeed in this. While the many sex scenes Updike crafted in his novels and stories engaged the reader, Dubus' many sex scenes turn mostly on the word "thrust"; with Updike you like being a voyeur,with Dubus, you want to turn away. Especially the last story, "Dirty Love", this reader found little but vulgarity, crudity and even, sadly, creepiness. I closed the book feeling, well, dirty.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on December 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In this collection of four unsettling, gripping stories, the author makes pretty clear that human weaknesses, the absence of communications, unmet or unrealistic expectations, etc can make marriages extremely difficult to maintain. Of course, none of this is seen initially, but these shortcomings inevitably work to erode many marriages. In addition, in the title story, “Dirty Love,” the widespread use of smartphones by teenagers is examined, especially the reckless sending of private, compromising information.

In one story, a fifty-something software project manager comes to find out that his wife of twenty-five years is paying special attention to him because she is having an affair. In another, a girl nearing thirty is bowled over by a very attentive man, only to discover that his perfectionist tendencies prevent her from feeling free to be herself. In a third story, a bartender, who fancies himself as a poet, is mesmerized by a girl with “black eyes of hope,” who he promptly marries. Unfortunately, he permits himself to be distracted by another woman while his new wife is pregnant.

In the most transfixing story, eighteen-year-old Devon desperately asks her elderly uncle for a place to live. Raised in a dysfunctional family, she, in seeking a safe haven with a rather dubious school crowd, feels pressured into sexual experimentation. Regrettably, she falls victim to the meanness of teenagers when a video of her is posted online. Interestingly, despite the injury that she has suffered on the Internet, after moving in with her uncle, she continues to go online to meet more desirable friends/guys.

The tone of the book is not one of hopelessness. The characters exhibit a certain amount of self-awareness regarding the situations in which they find themselves.
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