by Andre Dubus III


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"Dubus relives, absent self-pity or blame, a life shaped by bouts of violence and flurries of tenderness." —Vanity Fair

After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their overworked mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and everyday violence. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash between town and gown, between the hard drinking, drugging, and fighting of "townies" and the ambitions of students debating books and ideas, couldn’t have been more stark. In this unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Dubus shows us how he escaped the cycle of violence and found empathy in channeling the stories of others—bridging, in the process, the rift between his father and himself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393340679
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/06/2012
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 215,664
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Andre Dubus III is the author of Gone So Long, Dirty Love, 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 his family north of Boston.


Newbury, MA

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:



University of Texas at Austin

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Townie 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 139 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It seems I liked this more than most readers. Perhaps because I am the same age and economic background as the writer. Still, I thought is was a really good read and showed a slice of American life not usually written about today. Somewhat reminded me of an adult version of The Outsiders.
mlspitz More than 1 year ago
This is the most compelling memoir I've read in decades. Not only does it entertain (un-put-downable) but it imparts one lesson after another on dealing with life's issues in the best and worst of times! This is a memoir of survival. It's beautifully and honestly written and it will no doubt be read as a classic by generations to come. Thank you Mr. Dubus.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My husband and I both read this book and really enjoyed it! I grew up in a town close to Haverhill and I came to town with my High School for sporting events. I remember all of downtown being either boarded up or having bars and a rough crowd. It was a scary place in those days and I was forbidden by my parents to go downtown. We live even closer to Haverhill now and are enjoying all the benefits of the restoration. The restaurants are wonderful and the entire downtown area has new shops and and lots of places to explore. I just watched Chronicle on Channel Five and they highlighted "Townie," Andre Dubus III and the "new" Haverhill! This book is a true depiction of life in Haverhill if you lived on the wrong side of the Merrimack River in those days. Congratulations to Andre Dubus III for a wonderful read, I couldn't put it down! Hopefully, the book becomes a movie soon!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Andre Dubus III has brought to life a painful place and time with such insight and forgiveness.As he spans his life and gains distance from adolescence his ability to forgive his father, his tormentors and himself is compelling. The personal growth and insight he shares is a testament to his heart. This is a memoir to devour and savor.
julierenee13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book as an ARC. It is a coming of age memoir from the author of "The House of Sand and Fog." While I loved the writing and the theme of the book, I found it a bit tedious.
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most powerful books I have read this year. It is raw, depressing, violent, dark, gloomy, full of melancholy and despair. I listened to this on audio, and several times at the beginning had to put it aside to listen to something lighter. I just had never been exposed to something like this in real life and found it almost too difficult to believe. At one point, I stopped and Googled the author to see if this really was a true is. But no matter how many times I put it aside, I had to return, had to find out if this intelligent, neglected, man-child would make it to adulthood in one piece.The author reads this himself, and takes us through his life from his early childhood up to the present where he is enjoying success as a writer. He grew up in a series of run-down mill towns on the outskirts of Boston. His parents were divorced after the 4th child arrived, and although his father (also a writer) paid child support, and his mother worked, there was often not enough food, no new clothes or toys, and an absence of a good male role model. Constantly afraid of the older, more street smart toughs in his area, he found himself fighting to defend himself or his siblings, and to overcome his fear, he began weight-lifting (his father had left a weight bench in the basement) and later took up serious body building at a local gym. As he developed his muscles, and learned some boxing moves, his self-confidence grew and he suddenly was willing to challenge any and all comers--often with physically disastrous results.Although the book at times seems like one long, violent, ugly fight, and readers like me who never had to live in neighborhoods like this wonder how on earth he a) stayed alive and b) stayed out of jail, the story progresses as he makes his way to college to study philosophy and sociology, as he works in construction and as a bar-tender, as he discovers the joy of writing, and as he gradually reconciles with his father, developing a mature relationship he never had as a young boy.In the end, this is a story of redemption, of a young man's discovery of the opportunities available to him, of families growing to appreciate and help each other and in the end of broken personalities being mended and learning to live and love as whole persons.I cannot recommend this one highly enough. Yes, the violence is repugnant and the language is street raw, but Dubus' presentation of life as it really is for economically challenged families gives us a glimpse into obstacles and opportunities that many would not have otherwise.
swanroad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There's something about his story about growing up in violent and depressing neighborhoods and navigating the world in a family where adults are mainly absent, and still finding your voice that's familiar and universal if decidedly male. Andre Dubus III bravely tells his story, which also sheds some light on the mindsets of many boys / men who fight their way toward adulthood. While the reader knows his story turns out well, you still root for him and share in his triumph when he realizes that maybe we're all just doing the best we can.
eenerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gritty and engrossing memoir of life growing up on the edge of two worlds: the hard edged slummy neighborhoods where he lived with his poor but smart social-worker mother and siblings; then the tony college towns where his famous writer father taught and lived it up bohemian-style. Really struck a cord with me, loved this book.
msf59 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fisticuffs and Fathers. This could have made a perfect alternate title. Yes, there is only one father featured in this tough brooding memoir but there a multitude of fights. The author, a respected novelist, looks back on a very difficult childhood, raised in a low income family, in a rough-tumble mill town in Massachusetts. These were mean streets and young Andre suffered at the fists of many a bully, repeatedly beaten and kicked. He also witnessed the torment of his other siblings, while he fearfully and helplessly watched. A worthless coward.Turning to low-budget movies for inspiration, admiring fake working-class heroes like, Buford Pusser, from Walking Tall and the kick-ass lead from Billy Jack, Andre, began working out with weights and soon was strong enough to retaliate and began returning the punishment. Now, he was able to protect himself and his family but found himself no better than the worst thug.The father of the story, a teacher and a respected author, left the family early on. A loving but ineffectual father, this memoir explores the relationship of the two Andres, with beautiful detail.This is not an easy read, but Dubus is a strong storyteller, with amazing recall and creates a fascinating tale of love and redemption.
twryan72 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was definitely a powerful read. Like many of the other reviewers, I found myself thinking about it when on break from reading. A unique memoir--following a boy's journey into violence as a method for building self worth--and it was jarring. The book was a bit long...the fight sequences became tedious. I really enjoyed his earlier (pre-violent) years and then the later (post-violent) time. I wanted more of his life as a husband and father. I would have liked for him to discuss his relationships with women more. It seems unlikely that his difficult upbringing wouldn't have resulted in major problems in this area. The ending shows him as a loving and "natural" father, without ever having that model.
Laura400 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This turned out to be a really good book, and it has stayed with me. It was a slow starter and perhaps a bit too long, but I was glad I pushed through the slower parts. It's a really good account of becoming a man, and becoming a writer. Dubus portrays with honesty but never bitterness his difficult youth and complicated relationship with his father. He is candid about his sense of abandonment and drift growing up, and the seduction of violence, but is neither judgmental or harsh. I recommend it highly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a woman an I sometimes asked men, professional sorts, to tell me about the fights they endured as boys. It never ceases to amaze me that not one of them escaped physical violence from other boys. What Andre faced growing up was both horribly worse than any story I ever heard, and yet surprisingly common. I loved this book for what it exposed.
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