With the publication of his first volume of short stories, SEPARATE FLIGHTS (1975), it became clear that Andre Dubus had no illusions about the human condition. However, after a hit-and-run accident in 1986 left him in constant pain, bound to a wheelchair, and even cost him his marriage, Dubus experienced such physical and mental suffering that it seemed he would never write again. The publication of a volume of essays entitled BROKEN VESSELS (1991), then of the short story collection DANCING AFTER HOURS (1996), and now of this volume testify not only to Dubus’ courage and determination but also, as he believes, to the operation of divine grace in his own life.
All of the twenty-five essays in MEDITATIONS FROM A MOVABLE CHAIR are highly personal, and all of them are connected at least peripherally to what happened to the author. In “Legs,” “A Country Road Song,” and “Autumn Legs,” for example, Dubus admits that until he lost his freedom, he never really appreciated it. Similarly, he asserts that he never understood Hemingway’s “In Another Country” until he himself was wounded. Thus out of suffering comes wisdom; out of evil, God brings good.
Although MEDITATIONS FROM A MOVABLE CHAIR is solidly grounded in Roman Catholic theology, Dubus’ story of his spiritual quest has meaning not just for Catholics but for every human being who would like to make sense out of suffering. Uncompromisingly honest and beautifully written, this memorable book is a real treasure.
Sources for Further Study
America. CLXXIX, September 26, 1998, p. 22.
Booklist. XCIV, May 15, 1998, p. 1589.
Library Journal. CXXIII, June 15, 1998, p. 79.
The New York Times Book Review. CIII, July 5, 1998, p. 15.
Publishers Weekly. CCXLV, May 18, 1998, p. 60.
US Catholic. LXIII, June, 1998, p. 18.
The Washington Post. July 28, 1998, p. C5.
WE Magazine. September, 1998, p. 94.
The Yale Review. LXXXVI, July, 1998, p. 89.