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A Memoir

Andre Dubus III (Author, University of Massachusetts, Lowell)


Won Book of the Year Adult Non-Fiction—2012 Indie Choice Awards
Amazon Best Book of the Month February 2011

"Dubus relives, absent self-pity or blame, a life shaped by bouts of violence and flurries of tenderness."—Vanity Fair

After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their overworked mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and everyday violence. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash between town and gown, between the hard drinking, drugging, and fighting of "townies" and the ambitions of students debating books and ideas, couldn’t have been more stark. In this unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Dubus shows us how he escaped the cycle of violence and found empathy in channeling the stories of others—bridging, in the process, the rift between his father and himself.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • February 2012
  • ISBN 978-0-393-34067-9
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 400 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverTownie: A Memoir


Endorsements & Reviews

“Starred review. Powerful, haunting. . . . Beautifully written and bursting with life.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Starred Review. In this gritty and gripping memoir, Dubus bares his soul in stunning and page-turning prose.” — Publishers Weekly

When Dubus’ parents (his father was the revered short-story writer Andre Dubus Jr.) split up, he, his mother and his two siblings were relegated to a financially precarious existence in a New England mill town. He found their working-class neighborhood to be a realm of peril, where drugs, petty crime and...pointless violence lurked around every corner. Survival meant cultivating a hard, aggressively macho carapace, but Dubus’ occasional visits with his father showed him that there was a world of thought, tranquility and art out there somewhere, however inaccessible it seemed. The inspiration offered by these encounters was equaled only by the pain of his exile. Townie is the story of how Dubus made the journey to his own writer’s life, and also of how he almost didn’t make it. Unsparing and occasionally brutal, but never bitter, it’s an exceptionally eloquent depiction of...what it feels like to be left behind.

Townie, in addition to probing the wounds of class and family, explains how the son became, like his father, a writer... Long before the end of Townie it becomes evident that Dubus reached a maturity his father never quite attained. His growing up may have been hard, but he grew up all the way.

” — Laura Miller, The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia,

“Starred Review. Townie is a resolute story about the forging of a writer in fire and blood and a wrenching journey through the wreckage of New England’s lost factory world during the Vietnam War era. But Dubus wasn’t born into poverty, rage, and violence. His father, an ex–marine officer turned celebrated writer and adored college professor, initially settled his first family in the bucolic countryside. But the marriage failed, “Pop” moved out, and the four kids and their overwhelmed mother plunged into impoverished small-town hell. Dubus, a target for bullies, and his equally complex and resilient siblings were hungry, neglected, and imperiled within a storm of druggy nihilism and bloodlust. Dubus survived by lifting weights and learning to fight, but his unbridled aggression, even on the side of good, exacted a spiritual toll. Although their charismatic father was oblivious to his children’s suffering, he was not unloving, and when an accident left him confined to a wheelchair, their support was profound. Dubus chronicles each traumatic incident and realization in stabbing detail. So chiseled are his dramatic memories, his shocking yet redemptive memoir of self-transformation feels like testimony under oath as well as hard-hammered therapy, coalescing, ultimately, in a generous, penetrating, and cathartic dissection of misery and fury, creativity and forgiveness, responsibility and compassion.” — Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2011: Rarely has the process of becoming a writer seemed as organic and--dare I say it--moral as it does in Andre Dubus III's clear-eyed and compassionate memoir, Townie. You might think that following his father's trade would have been natural and even obvious for the son and namesake of Andre Dubus, one of the most admired short story writers of his time, but it was anything but. His father left when he was 10, and as his mother worked long hours to keep them fed, her four children mostly raised themselves, stumbling through house parties and street fights in their Massachusetts mill town, so cut off from the larger world that when someone mentioned "Manhattan" when Andre was in college he didn't know what they were talking about. What he did know, and what he recalls with detailed intensity, were the battles in bars and front yards, brutal to men and women alike, that first gave him discipline, as he built himself from a fearful kid into a first-punch, hair-trigger bruiser, and then empathy, as, miraculously, he pulled himself back from the violence that threatened to define him. And it was out of that empathy that, wanting to understand the stories of the victims of brutality as well as those whose pain drove them to dish it out, he began to write, reconciling with his father and eventually giving us novels like House of Sand and Fog and now this powerful and big-hearted memoir.” — Tom Nissley, Amazon

Also by Andre Dubus III All

  1. Book CoverDirty Love


  2. Book CoverThe Garden of Last Days: A Novel


  3. Book CoverHouse of Sand and Fog


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