Andre Dubus Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Andre Dubus (duh-BYOOS) was born and raised in the bayou country of Louisiana and educated at the Christian Brothers’ School in Lafayette, Louisiana. Dubus would remain a devout Roman Catholic throughout his life. After earning a bachelor of arts degree in English in 1958 from McNeese State College in Lafayette, Dubus married Patricia Lowe and joined the United States Marine Corps. Four children were born to the couple during the five years Dubus was in the Marines. His Louisiana upbringing, his Roman Catholism, and his experience in the Marines were all to figure in his later short stories.

In 1963 Dubus published his first short story, “The Intruder,” in The Sewanee Review, a prestigious literary journal. In the same year, he ended his period of service with the Marines, and in 1964 he moved his young family to Iowa City, Iowa, where he entered the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He graduated with a master of fine arts degree and in 1966 moved the family to New England to teach at Bradford College in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Dubus was to teach at Bradford College for eighteen years and to remain in Haverhill for the rest of his life.

A first novel, The Lieutenant, was published in 1967. The novel is drawn from his experience in the Marine Corps. In 1970 Dubus and his wife Patricia were divorced. The divorce was relatively amicable, but the difficulties and pain of divorce for children and fathers became another recurring theme in Dubus’s fiction.

Dubus’s stories continued to be published in literary journals, and in 1975 the Boston publishing house David Godine published his first collection of stories, Separate Flights. The collection was a critical success. His story “If They Knew Yvonne” was included in The Best American Short Stories 1970. Another short story, “Cadence,” was included in The Best American Short Stories 1976. Dubus received his first Guggenheim Award the same year. In 1977 Godine published a second short story collection, Adultery and Other Choices. His stories...

(The entire section is 859 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Andre Dubus was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on August 11, 1936, and attended the Christian Brothers Catholic School in Lafayette from 1944 until 1954, after which he enrolled in McNeese State University in Lake Charles. Upon graduating from college in 1958 with a B.A. in English and journalism, he married Patricia Lowe and entered the Marine Corps with a commission as lieutenant. Over the next five years, four of the couple’s children were born (Suzanne in 1958, Andre III in 1959, Jeb in 1960, and Nicole in 1963), and he was to rise to the rank of captain.

In 1963, he published his first story, “The Intruder,” in The Sewanee Review and resigned his officer’s commission to enter the M.F.A. program at the University of Iowa, the much respected Writers’ Workshop program. Upon receiving his M.F.A. in 1965, he taught for one year as a lecturer at Nicholls State University in Louisiana, before accepting a position at Bradford College in Massachusetts in 1966, where he was to teach for the next fourteen years, until his retirement in 1984.

Dubus was married and divorced three times, and the pain of these broken marriages provided a source for much of his fiction. His first marriage, to Lowe in 1958, ended in divorce in 1970. His second marriage, to Tommie Gail Cotter in 1975, ended in divorce in 1977. His third marriage, to Peggy Rambach, also a writer, in 1979, produced two daughters, Cadence, born in 1982, and Madeline, born in 1987, but ended when his wife left in November, 1987, in the midst of family strain stemming from a 1986 automobile accident, which also cost Dubus a leg.

Many of Dubus’s stories have been selected for the annual The Best American Short Stories and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards series. Among his national honors, he received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1985 and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1986. Both of these honors came after his retirement from teaching in 1984. His plans to use the monetary freedom provided by these grants to spend more time writing were violently interrupted by an accident in which he had stopped to assist two distressed motorists, only to become the victim of another car. The pain of recovering from this accident, in which he saved a life but lost a leg, is chronicled in the title essay of his collection of essays Broken Vessels. On February 24, 1999, Dubus died in Haverhill, Massachusetts.


Andre Dubus was born into a Cajun Catholic family on August 11, 1936. Growing up in Lake Charles and Lafayette, Louisiana, Dubus attended Christian Brothers school, where he was instilled with a love of literature. After graduating from college with a journalism degree, Dubus joined the Marines, serving for six years and achieving the rank of captain. He then moved to Iowa City with his children and first wife, and attended the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop. There, he was mentored by Richard Yates and developed a writing style that was greatly influenced by Anton Chekhov.

Moving again to Massachusetts, Dubus began a successful teaching and publishing career. His first major accomplishment was the novel The Lieutenant, which was published by David R. Godine in 1965. While Dubus would stick to short stories and essays afterwards, he remained loyal to Godine, despite offers from larger presses. His prolific catalog includes classic volumes such as Adultery and Other Choices (1977), Broken Vessels (1991), and the National Book Award finalist Dancing After Hours (1996). His short story "Killings" was adapted into the Oscar-nominated film In the Bedroom, and the story "We Don't Live Here Anymore" was adapted into the 2004 movie of the same name.

Dubus was marked from an early age by tragedy; his sister was attacked and brutally raped. Consequently, he found himself exploring the themes of betrayal and violence in his writing. Later, in 1986, Dubus suffered a terrible car accident. While he attempted to help a brother and sister from their wrecked vehicle, a car veered off the road and struck them. The brother died and Dubus lost one of his legs. Though he tried physical therapy and prosthetics, he was wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life. He wrote about his physical and emotional pain with great elegance and insight in the essay collection Meditations From a Moveable Chair.

A life-long Catholic, Dubus experienced a spiritual reawakening later in life. Despite the fact that he was married and divorced three times, he found great solace and joy in his large family of six children, including the writer Andre Dubus III, who penned the novel House of Sand and Fog. Dubus was the recipient of many honors and awards during his lifetime, including the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rea Award for the Short Story, and a MacArthur Genius Grant. He died of a heart attack in his Massachusetts home on February 25, 1999.