Dancing After Hours

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Andre Dubus has always been a writer who seems to believe that most human beings are seeking an intimate relationship and that the highest point of happiness lies in finding that most elusive state in a meaningful marriage. Now that Dubus is nearing the age of sixty, his emphasis on the search for love and marriage seems all the more heightened, perhaps even a little desperate, as his characters, also growing older, fear that they will lose hold of their tenuous grip on union or else never be able to find that elusive magic.

The most interesting stories in the collection focus on the character of LuAnn, introduced in “Falling in Love,” when she meets Ted Briggs, a wounded Vietnam veteran, and the two dance delicately around beginning a relationship. In “The Timing of Sin,” LuAnn, now married to Ted, discovers just how tenuous marital commitment is when she “almost commits adultery,” but is saved because of a mundane, or perhaps spiritual, impediment. Finally, in “Out of the Snow,” LuAnn fights off rape by two strangers with such rage that she is astonished at her ferocity.

The two longest stories in the collection—“Blessings” and “Dancing in the Dark”—are the two most communal; both are about what gives people character and what holds them together in face of adversity. In this seventh collection, Andre Dubus’ stories are, as always, about hope and faith and union; that is, they are romantic and religious. But only the most callous would call them corny.

Sources for Further Study

America. CLXXIV, June 8, 1996, p. 25.

The Antioch Review. LIV, Summer, 1996, p. 380.

Booklist. XCII, January 1, 1996, p. 786.

Boston Magazine. LXXXVIII, April, 1996, p. 140.

Chicago Tribune. March 10, 1996, XIV, p. 3.

The Christian Century. CXIII, May 22, 1996, p. 591.

Commonweal. CXXIII, May 17, 1996, p. 24.

Library Journal. CXXI, February 15, 1996, p. 177.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. February 18, 1996, p. 2.

National Catholic Reporter. XXXII, May 24, 1996, p. 26.

The New York Times Book Review. CI, February 25, 1996, p. 13.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLIII, January 1, 1996, p. 58.

Time. CXLVII, March 4, 1996, p. 66.

The Washington Post Book World. March 3, 1996, p. 8.