The Year of Dreaming Dangerously

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  • Townie: a Memoir by Andre Dubus III.

Payments: Special financing available. An error occurred, please try again. Good: A book that has been read but is in good condition. I've never read a better or more serious meditation on violence, its sources, consequences, and, especially, its terrifying pleasures, than "Townie.

You'll never read the work of either man in quite the same way afterward. You may not view the world in quite the same way either. Powerful, Haunting. Beautifully Written and Bursting with Life. Townie is a resolute story about the forging of a writer in fire and blood and a wrenching journey through the wreckage of New England's lost factory world during the Vietnam War era. But Dubus wasn't born into poverty, rage, and violence. His father, an exmarine officer turned celebrated writer and adored college professor, initially settled his first family in the bucolic countryside.

But the marriage failed, Pop moved out, and the four kids and their overwhelmed mother plunged into impoverished small-town hell. Dubus, a target for bullies, and his equally complex and resilient siblings were hungry, neglected, and imperiled within a storm of druggy nihilism and bloodlust. Dubus survived by lifting weights and learning to fight, but his unbridled aggression, even on the side of good, exacted a spiritual toll.

Although their charismatic father was oblivious to his children's suffering, he was not unloving, and when an accident left him confined to a wheelchair, their support was profound. Dubus chronicles each traumatic incident and realization in stabbing detail. So chiseled are his dramatic memories, his shocking yet redemptive memoir of self-transformation feels like testimony under oath as well as hard-hammered therapy, coalescing, ultimately, in a generous, penetrating, and cathartic dissection of misery and fury, creativity and forgiveness, responsibility and compassion.

You might think that following his father's trade would have been natural and even obvious for the son and namesake of Andre Dubus, one of the most admired short story writers of his time, but it was anything but. His father left when he was 10, and as his mother worked long hours to keep them fed, her four children mostly raised themselves, stumbling through house parties and street fights in their Massachusetts mill town, so cut off from the larger world that when someone mentioned "Manhattan" when Andre was in college he didn't know what they were talking about.

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