Andre Dubus Dubus, Andre (Vol. 97) - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Andre Dubus 1936–

American short story writer, novelist, and essayist.

The following entry presents criticism on Dubus's works through 1996. See also Andre Dubus Criticism (Volume 13).

Characterized as a Southerner who seldom writes about the South, Dubus is known for realistic fiction that explores the desires, disillusionment, and moral dilemmas of contemporary American society, and he is noted for his deft creation of believable characters in everyday circumstances. Critics particularly acknowledge Dubus's realistic portrayal of the thoughts and emotions of his female protagonists.

Biographical Information

Dubus grew up in a middle-class Southern family. He has credited his lifelong Catholicism with sharpening his sense of curiosity about people and their actions and with serving as a foundation for his compassion toward others. He served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps before entering the University of Iowa in 1964 to pursue graduate studies in writing. By 1966 Dubus was living in Massachusetts, the setting for many of his works, and teaching modern fiction and creative writing at Bradford College. His first novel, The Lieutenant, was published the following year. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Dubus continued lecturing and writing short stories and novellas. In 1986 he lost one leg and nearly died in a highway accident that occurred when he stopped to help two stranded motorists. During his rehabilitation, Dubus wrote and published a collection of essays, Broken Vessels (1991), several of which specifically reflect the physical and emotional pain of this experience. He has been awarded Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships; at the age of 59, Dubus won the Rea Award for short story writing.

Major Works

Dubus is best known for well-plotted, realistic stories which typically center on the turbulence, and sometimes the violence, of male-female relationships. Although his characters often attempt to escape the pain of unstable marriages by committing adultery—as in the stories of Dubus's first collection, Separate Flights (1975), and in the title story of Adultery, and Other Choices (1977)—their promiscuous affairs usually intensify, rather than relieve, their dissatisfaction. Catholicism is a strong and generally positive presence in Dubus's fiction. The lifelong struggle to reconcile the remnants of one's religious training with the desires and demands of contemporary American life is a central theme in each of the four novellas and two short stories which comprise The Last Worthless Evening (1986). In "A Father's Story" from The Times Are Never So Bad (1983), a man whose daughter has killed someone in an automobile accident seeks comfort through religious ritual and a compassionate priest. Two stories from this collection revolve around abused women: "The Pretty Girl" describes a man who terrorizes his ex-wife and her lover, and "Leslie" concerns a disillusioned woman beaten by her drunken husband. Much of the writing in Broken Vessels and Dancing After Hours (1996) grew out of Dubus's experiences after his accident in 1986. "The exuberant self of memory [in Broken Vessels] and the chastened self he possesses after the accident war with each other," Leonard Kriegel noted, as Dubus lays bare the pain of losing the mobility and physical activities he cherished as well as the self-sufficiency he believed was expected of him. With Dancing After Hours Dubus melds his experiences as a cripple, the term he prefers, with the themes of his previous work, exploring "the ways lives can suddenly change, sometimes with sudden cruelty, sometimes with grace," as a Publishers Weekly critic explained. The title story of the collection earned Dubus the Rea Award for short fiction in 1996.

Critical Reception

Dubus has received generally favorable critical attention throughout his career. He has been particularly noted for his ability to explore the ethical contradictions of society through the perspective of ordinary people whose everyday lives are laced with ambivalence and moral conflict. Although some critics have found Dubus's work powerful and relevant but "depressing to read," as Charles Deemer remarked, or his characters "resolutely ungiving and uncharming," as Joyce Carol Oates asserted, Dubus's sensitive portrayal of the inner lives of both men and women has merited critical praise. Many reviewers have remarked on the impact of Dubus's accident on his writing, praising the wisdom and grace with which he recovered from and continues to manage the devastating changes it brought to his life.

Principal Works

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Lieutenant (novel) 1967
Separate Flights (short stories) 1975
Adultery, and Other Choices (short stories) 1977
Finding a Girl in America (short stories) 1980
The Times Are Never So Bad (short stories) 1983
Land Where My Fathers Died (novella) 1984
Voices from the Moon (short stories) 1984
We Don't Live Here Anymore (short stories) 1984
The Last Worthless Evening (short stories) 1986
Selected Stories (short stories) 1988
Broken Vessels (essays) 1991
Dancing After Hours (short stories) 1996

Gene Lyons (review date 26 February 1977)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Eavesdropping on the Quotidian," in The Nation, New York, Vol. 224, No. 8, February 26, 1977, pp. 248-50.

[Lyons is an American author and critic. In the following review, he describes the stories in Separate Flights as snapshots of late twentieth-century American life and asserts that Dubus's fiction is characterized by finely crafted characters and believable circumstances.]

Madison Avenue and the organized churches aside, marriage has few defenders these days, and if a social unit can be invented that will move more lawn mowers, console TV sets, station wagons and automatic corn poppers than the nuclear family, the only place you will be able to see a married couple will be on educational television. At first glance Andre Dubus's Separate Flights, published in 1975 seems to be one more brief for the prosecution. After ten years of marriage here is how the narrator and protagonist of the novella "We Don't Live Here Anymore" talks about the institution:

For some years now I have been spiritually allergic to the words husband and wife. When I read or hear husband I see a grimly serene man in a station wagon; he is driving his loud family on a Sunday afternoon. They will end with ice cream, sticky car seats, weariness, and ill tempers. In his youth he had the virtues of madness: rage and passion and generosity. Now he gets a damp sponge from the kitchen and wipes dried ice cream from his seat covers. He longs for the company of loud and ribald men, he would like to drink bourbon and fight in a bar, steal a pretty young girl and love her through the night. When someone says wife I see the confident, possessive, and amused face of a woman in her kitchen; among bright curtains and walls she offers her husband a kiss as he returns from the day sober, paunchy, on his way to some nebulous goal that began as love, changed through marriage to affluence, is now changing to respectable survival. She is wearing a new dress. From her scheming heart his balls hang like a trophy taken in battle with a young hero long dead.

His own marriage is not even remotely like that; nor is the marriage of his best friend Hank, whom he is cuckolding, and who before the end of the story will have returned the favor. But this is the stance they like to assume when the need for excusing themselves from the sins of egomania seizes them. Now drinking with the boys is one thing, but anybody who longs for fist fights is a sentimentalist: either he had very few in his youth or he watches far too many cowboy movies. And as for the one-night stand, it is likely to be the leading cause of marriage. No amount of masculine or feminist posturing has been able to conceal or change that. In our culture anyway, casual copulation seems to make almost everybody sad.

The vision behind Dubus's fiction is sober, unsparing and exact, but never pitiless. With one or two exceptions, stories like "The Doctor," or "In My Life," which are so short and comparatively slight as to seem almost unfinished, any of the novella and seven short stories contained in Separate Flights might serve as textbook examples of what one means by calling a fiction writer a "craftsman." Dubus puts his stories together like a man with one eye on the future and declines to argue, as I have done in the first paragraph, with contemporary cant and delusion. Each of the stories has its own voice and point of view, as if Dubus were telling his readers rather flatly that: "Here is the way they lived inside American houses in the latter third of the 20th century. This is what they said and did and what they cared about and cried over. You may draw your own conclusions." In many ways he is like Joan Didion without the name brands and the grotesquery, perhaps because his characters live in New England, Iowa and Louisiana rather than in California. In the absence of God they construct their small melodramas out of an inability to live without some kind of myth, and in one way or another those melodramas involve the departure of love and the incipient discovery of mortality. It is time and faithlessness—religious and sexual—that destroys spontaneity. The way back always seems shorter than the way out, particularly if one has no good reason to return. It bears mentioning that Dubus is, or was at least—it is impossible to tell from the stories themselves—a Catholic.

I find I must correct myself. Some of the characters in one of his stories, "Miranda Over the Valley," do live in Southern California. The Miranda of the title is a Boston University freshman who discovers on Halloween that she was impregnated by her high school boyfriend just before leaving Los Angeles. Her parents fly her home to poolside to talk her out of marriage and into an abortion, offering her more or less as a bribe a Christmas trip to Acapulco with her lover, a conscience-stricken young man who plans to become a poverty lawyer. Her mother is abortion's most strenuous advocate:

"… What are you going to be, pussycat—a dumb little housewife? Your husband will be out in the world, he'll be growing, and all you'll know is diapers and Gerbers. You've got to finish college—"… She looked at Michaelis; he was watching her mother, listening. "You can't make marriage the be-all and end-all. Because if you do it won't work. Listen: from the looks of things we've got one of the few solid marriages around. But it took work, pussycat. Work." Her eyes gleamed with the victory of that work, the necessity for it. "And we were older. I was twenty-six, I'd been to school, I'd worked; you see the difference it makes? After all these years with this guy—and believe me some of them have been like standing in the rain—now that I'm getting old and going blind from charcoal smoke at least I know I didn't give anything up to get married....

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Anatole Broyard (review date 20 November 1977)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Some Good Moments," in The New York Times Book Review, November 20, 1977, p. 14.

[Broyard was an American author and critic. In the following review, he suggests that the title story of Adultery, and Other Choices is most reflective of Dubus's talent for storytelling.]

Freshening up the subject of adultery in fiction is no mean feat and Andre Dubus does a good job of it in the long title story of Adultery and Other Choices. Edith and Hank Allison have what Hank describes as "a loving, intimate marriage," and to a degree, this is true. Hank is both tender and passionate with Edith, he respects her, and he wants and needs the stable structure of...

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Gilberto Perez (essay date Winter 1980–81)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "These Days in the Holocene," in The Hudson Review, Vol. XXXIII, No. 4, Winter, 1980–81, pp. 575-88.

[In the following excerpt, Perez offers a critical overview of Finding a Girl in America, suggesting that Dubus's stories provide a believable context for the dramatization of significant moral issues.]

The stories in Andre Dubus's new collection, Finding a Girl in America,… often deal with losing, and with looking again for a girl in America. In one story, set before and during the Second World War, a man from Texas has a girl in his home town who seems ideal for him, but after he joins the Marines he gets to cherish his life with the troops,...

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William H. Pritchard (essay date Winter 1983–84)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Some August Fiction," in The Hudson Review, Vol. XXXVI, No. 4, Winter, 1983–84, pp. 742-54.

[Pritchard is an American author and critic. In the following excerpt, he calls Dubus's portrayal of the everyday lives and secret agonies of ordinary people perceptive and realistic.]

As for Andre Dubus, whose fourth collection of short fiction [The Times Are Never So Bad] earns him the title of seasoned veteran, one would not wish him to be at all other than he is. Which is also to say that he has not "developed" from the best work of his first collection, Separate Flights, of eight years ago. That book, like Dubus's subsequent collections, opened...

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Andre Dubus with Thomas Kennedy (interview date ca. 1985)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An interview in Thomas E. Kennedy's Andre Dubus: A Study of the Short Fiction, Twayne Publishers, 1988, pp. 90-123.

[Kennedy is an American author, educator, and critic. In the following excerpt of an interview originally published in the February 1987 issue of Delta and based on conversations and correspondence between Kennedy and Dubus during an eighteen-month period of time in the mid-1980s, Dubus discusses his characters, his works, and the writing process.]

[Kennedy:] Contemporary American fiction seems to me to harbor two basic kinds of writer and critic: those who hold that fiction is about people and events, and those who hold that it is about...

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Steve Yarbrough (essay date Fall 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Andre Dubus: From Detached Incident to Compressed Novel," in Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction, Vol. XXVIII, No. 1, Fall, 1986, pp. 19-27.

[In the following critical assessment of Dubus's short stories published between 1977 to 1985, Yarbrough asserts that Dubus's fiction-writing talents are best showcased in his longer short stories.]

Andre Dubus has published two novels and four novellas, but his growing reputation rests most securely on his short stories. Those stories may, with some qualifications, be divided into three groups, based upon the way in which the stories are structured: closely related to structure, characterization is handled differently in...

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Paul Gray (review date 10 November 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Loners and Losers," in Time, New York, Vol. 128, No. 19, November 10, 1986, pp. 107-08.

[In the following review, Gray praises Dubus's skill as a short story writer and calls "Rose" a "classic American story."]

Forget the business about novellas and stories in the subtitle [The Last Worthless Evening: Four Novellas and Two Stories]. Author Andre Dubus' latest collection of short fiction contains six pieces, four of them somewhat longer than the other two. It is Dubus' main title that calls for scrutiny. The Last Worthless Evening is not taken from any of the works included in the book; it alludes instead to a passage from William Faulkner's...

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Joseph J. Feeney (essay date 15 November 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Poised for Fame: Andre Dubus at Fifty," in America, Vol. 155, No. 14, November 15, 1986, pp. 296-99.

[In the following excerpt, Feeney comments on the breadth of biographical, psychological, and social circumstances which have influenced Dubus's fiction.]

Blurbs and pictures on the dustjackets of his books seem to tell it all. He looks like a teamster or a bearhunter: solid build, bushy beard, blue cap marked "Captain," jeans with a wide leather belt. He is a baseball addict, was a Marine for over five years, carries an axehandle in his car trunk and has a strong social conscience. He calls himself a "cradle-Catholic," often attends daily Mass, has been...

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Andre Dubus with Patrick H. Samway (interview date 15 November 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An interview in America, Vol. 155, No. 14, November 15, 1986, pp. 300-01.

[In the following interview, which took place prior to his debilitating automobile accident, Dubus discusses literary and religious influences on his work.]

[Samway:] What authors or works of literature have influenced you?

[Dubus:] Chekhov the most. I cut my teeth on Hemingway, not stylistically or thematically, but because I did a research paper on him as an undergraduate. I learned a lot about the craft, not so much from reading his work, but about his approaches to writing. He gave me advice: Do physical exercise after writing and forget what you have written;...

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Art Seidenbaum (review date 23 November 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Last Worthless Evening, in Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 23, 1986, p. 6.

[In the following review of The Last Worthless Evening, Seidenbaum asserts that Dubus's stories and novellas are detailed reflections of everyday life rather than purely fictional creations.]

Andre Dubus seems to have absorbed life rather than created it. His people, whether aboard an aircraft carrier or bending elbows at Timmy's tavern, have individual voices and separate hopes and particular tragic memories, but they also have a generic quality in common. Humanity is the easy word, probably the right one.

Dubus' people are neither...

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Clancy Sigal (review date 21 December 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Hero in the Worst of Us," in The New York Times Book Review, December 21, 1986, p. 12.

[Sigal is an American novelist and educator. In the following review, he analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of The Last Worthless Evening, pointing out Dubus's sympathy for his characters.]

In Andre Dubus's fine story "Rose," a nameless former Marine Corps lieutenant muses in a bar: "We like to believe that in this last quarter of the century, we know and are untouched by everything; yet it takes only a very small jolt, at the right time, to knock us off balance for the rest of our lives." That could be the keynote of the four novellas and two short stories in...

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Jack Sullivan (review date 11 January 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Way We Live Now: The Fiction of Andre Dubus," in Book World—The Washington Post, January 11, 1987, p. 7.

[In the following review, Sullivan traces some of the common elements of Dubus's short fiction that appear in The Last Worthless Evening.]

In an age when short stories all too often mask human suffering with self-conscious cleverness, material clutter and bland irony, the short fiction of Andre Dubus is a tonic to the spirit. His characters usually feel their suffering, sound its depths, and talk about it, sometimes, expansively—and even share what they learn with the reader. They draw us directly into the burning center of their thoughts and...

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Ellen Lesser (review date 20 January 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Going the Distance," in The Village Voice, Vol. XXXII, No. 3, January 20, 1987, pp. 50, 52.

[In the following review, Lesser observes that in The Last Worthless Evening, Dubus goes beyond the geographic and thematic boundaries that evolved in his previous fiction to explore wider social issues and that the length and pacing of a novella is uniquely suited to Dubus's style.]

With an author's first or second book, reviewers talk about promise; with a third or fourth, they speak of delivering on it. With his eighth book of fiction, Andre Dubus joins that small group of writers beyond the vocabulary of promise or even delivery—the ones who have settled in...

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Thomas E. Kennedy (essay date February 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Progress from Hunger to Love: Three Novellas by Andre Dubus," in The Hollins Critic, Vol. XXIV, No. 1, February, 1987, pp. 2-9.

[Kennedy is an American author and critic whose Andre Dubus: A Study of the Short Fiction was published in 1988. In the following essay, Kennedy traces the theme of progressing from solitude to love in three of Dubus's novellas.]

The fiction of Andre Dubus began to appear in the 1960s, a decade whose leading new writers were anything but realists. To the sixties, the very concept of an objective, comprehensible reality was suspect, a house of lies hammered together of truisms, party promises, and straight-faced...

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Eva Hoffman (review date 6 November 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Taking a Chance on Pathos," in The New York Times Book Review, November 6, 1988, p. 7.

[In the following review of Selected Stories, Hoffman suggests that everyday objects, circumstances, and relationships transcend the ordinary in Dubus's fictional explorations of love and its corruption.]

Emotional veracity is surely one of the most elusive elements in fiction. Just how do we decide that we trust a writer's voice? The sound of authentic feeling is different for each writer, and it cannot be easily parsed; and yet it is what determines whether we decide to put ourselves in an author's hands, or to balk at even the most brilliant insights or the most...

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Richard Eder (review date 20 November 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Stories from Scratch at Triple Strength," in Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 20, 1988, p. 3.

[Eder is an American critic and journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1987. In the following review of Selected Stories, he suggests that Dubus's fiction is sometimes marred by excessive writing.]

Like Raymond Carver, Andre Dubus sets his stories largely among the blue-collars and other Americans who confront impossible demands with narrow means.

Unlike the austere and finely voiced Carver, Dubus endows his constricted lives with large-scale emotions. Rage, lust, longing, violence and despair are painted with deep-hued,...

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John B. Breslin (essay date 2 December 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Playing Out the Patterns of Sin and Grace," in Commonweal, Vol. CXV, No. 21, December 2, 1988, pp. 652-56.

[Breslin is an American author, educator, and Roman Catholic clergyman. In the following essay, he examines the influence of Catholicism on Dubus's fictional exploration of human relationships.]

"I am fifty-one years old, yet I cannot feel I am growing older because I keep repeating the awakening experience of a child: I watch and I listen, I write in my journal, and each year I discover, with the awe of my boyhood, a part of the human spirit I had perhaps imagined, but had never seen or heard."

Thus the narrator of "Rose," the...

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Ellen Lesser (review date 17 January 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "True Confessions," in The Village Voice, Vol. XXXIV, No. 3, January 17, 1989, p. 56.

[In the following excerpt, Lesser discusses the depth of characterization in Dubus's Selected Stories.]

"Rose" is an exceptionally intense and difficult story, but it isn't exceptional among the Selected Stories of Andre Dubus. Several of these nearly two dozen works take as their subjects "crimes of passion." Even when homicide isn't an option or issue, Dubus's fiction depicts a world of high personal stakes; the stories track characters in pain, in precarious transition, in extremis. An angry ex-husband takes to terrorizing his former wife, while she buys a handgun...

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Anne Tyler (review date 6 February 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Master of Moments," in The New Republic, Vol. 200, No. 6, February 6, 1989, pp. 41-2.

[Tyler is an American novelist, short story writer, and critic. In the following review of Selected Stories, she characterizes the collection as "deeply rewarding" and Dubus as a writer who assumes moral responsibility for his characters.]

A woman and her grown son are sitting after hours in the restaurant where she works, discussing the son's unhappiness. The woman says, "You know why I like my waitress friends so much? And what I've learned from them? They don't have delusions. So when I'm alone at night … I look out my window, and it comes to me: we don't have to...

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Freddie Baveystock (review date 6-12 April 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Crisis Points," in The Times Literary Supplement, No. 4540, April 6-12, 1990, p. 376.

[In the following review of Selected Stories, Baveystock characterizes Dubus's fictional treatment of human conflict and crisis as psychological in origin and execution and suggests that the longer works are most reflective of the author's considerable insight and perception.]

Only eight of Andre Dubus's fifty-odd short stories or novellas have already been published in this country, in two paperback editions which are now out of print. So the appearance of these twenty-three Selected Storles is to be welcomed by anyone interested in short American fiction....

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Leonard Kriegel (review date 11 August 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Reborn in a Wheelchair," in The New York Times Book Review, August 11, 1991, p. 9.

[In the following review, Kriegel comments on the intensity of feeling and honesty found in Dubus's collection of personal essays, Broken Vessels.]

I have never met Andre Dubus, although I think he is as good a writer of short fiction as anyone I have read over the last ten years. But after reading his first book of autobiographical essays, Broken Vessels, I think I know him. In fact, I think I know him fairly well, the way I think I know certain old friends with whom the intricate joinings of friendship have blessed both our mutual past and the language with which we...

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Mark Hummel (review date October-November 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Road Maps to Sanity," in The Bloomsbury Review, Vol. 11, No. 7, October-November, 1991, p. 7.

[In the following review, Hummel discusses Dubus's tendency to focus on life's daily battles instead of its more dramatic moments in Broken Vessels.]

Since losing one leg, the use of his other, and nearly his life to a car accident in 1986, Andre Dubus has labeled himself a cripple. Then he gets on with living. Readers of Dubus are accustomed to such directness in his language; he does not use polite, political labels such as handicapped or disabled. Yet Dubus demonstrates that from his eyes, crippled is not only more accurate, it is more...

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David Toolan (review date 22 November 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Harshness to Poetry, Poetry to Revelation," in Commonweal, Vol. CXVIII, No. 20, November 22, 1991, pp. 696-97.

[In the following review, Toolan discusses Dubus's ability to turn poetry into revelation in Broken Vessels.]

Writers have their own set of moral commandments to add to the classic ten. "I can't write about any place I haven't smelled," admits Andre Dubus. On the night of July 23, 1986, that imperative had drawn him from his home in Haverhill, Massachusetts, near the New Hampshire border, to a seedy section of Boston to do research for a story he was writing about a prostitute. On his way home late that night, on a four-lane segment of I-93 North,...

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Publishers Weekly (review date 1 January 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Dancing After Hours, in Publishers Weekly, Vol. 243, No. 1, January 1, 1996, pp. 58-9.

[In the following review, the critic notes that in the stories in Dancing After Hours Dubus continues the themes of his earlier work but adds a new element as a result of his accident that makes "The Colonel's Wife" and the title story especially resonant.]

Dubus's first story collection in nearly a decade [Dancing After Hours] centers around the concerns that have informed all his writing: spirituality, Catholicism, adultery, love and the difficult attempt to sustain it through marriage and family—and, more broadly, the ways lives can...

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Doris Lynch (review date 15 February 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Dancing After Hours, in Library Journal, Vol. 121, No. 3, February 15, 1996, p. 177.

[In the following review, Lynch observes that Dubus "expresses some of life's important truths" through the characters of Dancing After Hours.]

These stories [in Dancing After Hours] are about women and men and the vast gulf that lies between them, which can, only sometimes, be bridged by love. Dubus, who has written eight other books of fiction and one collection of essays, lyrically examines modern relationships: marriages, affairs, and May/December romances. Three of the 14 stories in this collection follow the same couple, LuAnn Arceneaux and Ted...

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Richard Bausch (review date 25 February 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Love and Other Choices," in The New York Times Book Review, February 25, 1996, p. 13.

[Bausch is an American novelist and short story writer. In the following review, he applauds Dubus's return to short story writing and asserts that Dancing After Hours demonstrates the author's talent in the genre.]

I am always amused when writers who have made their careers writing novels start talking about the short story. Often enough, they fall into a kind of polite disparagement of the form and, by extension, of short-story writers as a species. Of course, this isn't new. Thirty years ago, in the introduction to a selection of his short fiction, Norman Mailer...

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Mark Shechner (review date 10 March 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Lines of Anguish," in Chicago Tribune—Books, March 10, 1996, p. 3.

[Shechner is a professor of English at the State University of New York in Buffalo. In the following review, he argues that Dancing After Hours "might just as well have been titled 'Tough Love' for what its characters endure in almost every story."]

This latest collection of short stories by Andre Dubus might just as well have been titled "Tough Love" for what its characters endure in almost every story. In one, a young actress, finding herself pregnant just as her career is taking off, chooses an abortion, though her boyfriend begs to raise the child, if need be, on his own. In...

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Christopher Lehmann-Haupt (review date 14 March 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Afraid of Sharks, Rifles, and the Passing of Time," in The New York Times. March 14, 1996, p. C19.

[Lehmann-Haupt is the New York Times's book critic. In the following review, he explores the various ways in which Dubus applies the element of fear in the stories of Dancing After Hours.]

People coping with fear is the predominant theme of the 14 stories in Andre Dubus's fine new collection, Dancing After Hours, his first work of new fiction to be published since he was badly injured in a traffic accident a decade ago.

Sometimes the fear is a memory, as in two cases of veteran soldiers recalling the terror of battle. At other...

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Further Reading

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)


Homes, Jon. "With Andre Dubus." Boston Review IX, No. 4 (August 1984): 7-8.

Essay based on an interview with Dubus in which he comments on childhood and real-life influences on his fiction.

Kennedy, Thomas E. Andre Dubus: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1988, 176 p.

In-depth thematic and stylistic analyses of Dubus's short fiction.

Milne, Kirsty. "Mass Movements." New Statesman and Society 3, No. 91 (9 March 1990): 36.

Praises Dubus's talent for creating...

(The entire section is 147 words.)