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Townie: A Memoir Hardcover – February 28, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Perhaps it's a case of disappointed expectations. I anticipated more of a literary memoir -- one that focused on Andre's writing apprenticeship and the influence of his dad, the celebrated short story writer. In fairness, it is the father-son angle that is this book's strength. Like many writing fathers, Andre Dubus, Jr., let his kids down as he went through young wife after young wife, devoting mornings to his writing and leaving his first wife (Andre's mom) to fend for the four fledglings. Young Andre III, like some classic 90-pound-weakling in a comic-book Charles Atlas ad, vows to build muscles with relentless work outs so that he can defend himself and others in the hardscrabble, blue collar environs of his hometown. Trouble is, he is to his family and friends what the United States is to planet Earth -- the world's policeman. He sticks his nose in every possible wrongdoing he can, sometimes to his own detriment and often to others'. After a while it's not only his victims yelling, "Uncle!", it's his readers.
Another oddity in the book is the way he relates his initiation into writing. It's as if a light switch is thrown and... voila... he stays home from boxing one night to brew tea and write short stories.Read more ›
Would I read the book if it were not about someone's life from Haverhill? No
I'm reluctant to put in spoilers here but will add that his parents' divorce was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to his life. This isn't to understate the effect of the divorce. Tight finances turned to what I'd term "desperate" and canned cheap food (Spaghettios, etc) became par for the course. Moving from one neighborhood to another, Dubus was often the target of bullies. He saw his father far less often and his father actually commented that "he felt like he was dating his children" because of regular weekly visits instead of seeing them daily.
Anger and fights became the norm for Dubus after he starting working out and training at boxing clubs. He learned how to fight but channeling his anger was far more difficult. Sometimes he'd go after a guy for a fairly minor transgression and then feel inklings of guilt afterwards.
You'll need to stick with the details of the author's early life to find out how he evolves. I winced when I read about how he went on a long run (over 8 miles) with his father while wearing ill-fitting shoes. I could practically feel every painful minute.
At an age (his 20s) when many writers already forge and hone their writing skills, Dubus was caught up in often violent activities before turning to writing in any serious way. His relationship with his father also changes, particularly after his father learns that his son can fight - something that the father never mastered.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Townie is an unforgettable memoir, taut, sincere, always reaching for solutions to overwhelming obstacles. We relate to Dubus, empathize with him, and cheer him on. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Hilbre-Island-for-me
Andre Dubus uses very clear language to bring the reader into the depths of so many emotions. I was there seeing, feeling,understanding,lamenting, rejoicing, and standing with him... Read morePublished 3 months ago by flower garden
Dubus has the finesse and ability to absorb the reader to experience along in his life. The timing happens to align with my own era, however this life is far from mine. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Annie Hendrix
A stunning memoir - probably one of the best I've ever read. Dubus's writing is incredibly relatable and he talks about a lot of different issues in an insightful way. Read morePublished 5 months ago by jrk4250
This memoir started off strong but it got bogged down with too much detail. I would have enjoyed the book more if it were 100 pages shorter.Published 6 months ago by ccw3990
A rough but necessary read to understand Dubus II's coming of age and maturation as a man, son, husband, father, friend and writer.Published 8 months ago by Priscilla A. Flynn
It took me awhile to get pulled into this story, but I am so glad I did not give up. It was very, very well-written and a compelling story, but in addition, this book gave me new... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Tricky Feet
A visceral example of life in poverty and a revelation of growth. That it's a true story is magic. Loved it.Published 9 months ago by Pat Mccarthy