Wednesday, May 11, 2005

KACEY KOWARS ON ANDRE DUBUS

The following is excerpted from a much more exhaustive consideration of Andre Dubus and his work, written by radio interviewer, Kacey Kowars. Being a devotee of Dubus and a huge fan of Kacey Kowars' insightful interviews with writers, I asked for permission to post an abridged version here. But if you cherish the work of Andre Dubus as much as I do, don't stop here. Return to the work. Dubus' life may have been cut short, but he left us so much. Then visit Kacey Kowars' website and listen to the interviews with Andre Dubus III. While you're there, you might want to catch Kacey's recent interview with Lee Martin. I've already exceeded my book budget for the month, but I couldn't help myself. After I listened to the interview, I went immediately to Amazon to order my copy of THE BRIGHT FOREVER.

Andre Dubus, the master short story writer, toiled in relative obscurity during much of his lifetime. Though known primarily for his stories, Mr. Dubus also wrote essays and novellas. His only novel, THE LIEUTENANT, was published in 1967. Though publishers clamored for novels, Mr. Dubus wrote what his stories asked of him. Sometimes the story wanted to be seven pages, sometimes twenty; ocassionaly the story turned into a novella.

I remember vividly the winter I discovered Andre's work. I bought a copy of THE TIMES ARE NEVER SO BAD at a small bookstore in Bexley, Ohio. I read the collection of stories with a growing sense of awe at what I was reading. I felt that Andre had been following me around, taking notes on my faults and shortcomings. I went back to the beginning and read all of his books, starting with SEPERATE FLIGHTS, the original book published by Godine that contained WE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE.

In the fall of 1984 I wrote Andre a letter, telling him how much his work meant to me, and how I had shared his books with my friends. I sent the letter to David Godine in Boston, not expecting a reply. On February 5, 1985 I returned home from work to find a solitary letter in my mailbox. I took the letter inside my house and saw it was sent by Andre Dubus from his home in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The letter was three pages long, and would be the first of many letters that Andre and I exchanged from 1985 until his death in 1999.

No one gets off easy in the world of Andre Dubus, for this is the essence of what life is; we must suffer the consequences of our behavior,for that is the only pathway to true joy. It is interesting to note that Andre Dubus was a man that loved life. He was a sensous man who took in all that life had to offer. He loved women, he loved his children, and he loved writing. Not necessarily in that order. He was a man who lived in a wheelchair the last thirteen years of his life. He had much to feel sorry for himself about, but he would not go there. He preferred to teach us how to live with his storytelling. He loved his characters. He was interested in their lives and what happened to them.

Andre Dubus deserves a wider reading audience. A good place to start is his COLLECTED STORIES published by Godine in 1988. Tune in to my website, www.kaceykowars.com, to hear an in-depth interview with Andre Dubus lll. In part one we discuss HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG. In part two we discuss the work of his father, including WE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE.

3 comments:

Diana said...

What an amzing story; I've only thought briefly about writing to an author but never seriously considered it. That someone could carry on a correspondence with an admired writer for 14 years is inspiring. Thanks for excerpting this.

I've only read his House of Sand and Fog, which I loved, and my to-read stack is getting perilously close to toppling but I'll wishlist this book for later.

Diana said...

Oops! Upon re-reading, I see that the one book you recommended was by Lee Martin, and that there is a plethora of Dubus collections... where to start, where to start?

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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