Andre Dubus III

Oct 24, 2011

After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their exhausted working mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and crime. On Sundays, Andre spent time with his dad, an author and college professor. Today we have a conversation with Dubus, the House of Sand and Fog author, about his new memoir Townie, about a clash of worlds, physical violence, and the failures and triumphs of love.

From Host John Dankosy: Andre Dubus III has written a memoir that places the acclaimed writer between two very different worlds.

Dubus is the author of The House of Sand and Fog - an award-winning best seller. His new book, Townie tells the story of his development from fighter...to writer. The fighting came from a difficult upbringing in rundown mill-towns along the Merrimack River in Massachusetts. He transformed himself from a scared young boy - into a young man who wanted to tangle with anyone who threatened him, his family or his friends.

But it wasn’t until he discovered writing - the work of his acclaimed short-story writer father - that he truly found the thing he was meant to do.  


Andre Dubus III will be speaking Thursday, November 3, 2011 at Billings Forge in Hartford at 11:30-1:30 in the Lyceum Building.

The event is free to the public. If you would like a boxed lunch catered by The Kitchen @ Billings, please register at the Simsbury Public Library by calling 860-658-7663. The cost of lunch is $12.

Summarized Transcript
Author Andres Dubus III joined WNPR news director and host of “Where We Live,” John Danksoky on Monday, October 24, 2011.

SEGMENT 1: Writing a Memoir
Andres Dubus III says he prefers to write about other people and had no intention of writing e memoir at all until his sons began watching baseball. He had never seen the game played before and decided to write about his early life because he wondered how he missed baseball. “What was I doing instead?” the author asked.

John Dankosky asks how the author approached this differently than other memoir writers might. Answer: “The one enemy to creativity, for me, is self-consciousness. I try to be unconscious, and dream the first draft through nakedly, and without much forethought, which is a messy way to write a book.”

The author was not prepared to write about his family, and wondered how he could write about them without violating their privacy. He thought of a piece of advice from novelist Richard Russo: “Am I trying to hurt anybody? if the answer is no,then I go ahead and write it.”

Segment ends with a reading from the book, and a discussion of what the towns on the Merrimack River.

SEGMENT 2: Violence in Townie and in Andres Dubus III’s Life
A caller asks Andres Dubus III about how boxing shaped his personality. Answer: He’s torn about boxing; part of it is good, he used boxing solely as a sport to become less violent, and there is a discussion of some of the violent male role models he was surrounded by while growing up.  

He tells the story of a pivotal moment of fighting involving his brother that really changed him.

SEGMENT 3: May the Muse Be with You”
Caller asks Andres Dubus III about the differences between writing fiction, and non-fiction. Answer: He asks himself, “Am I capturing, in a three-dimensional way, what it’s like to be in this position?” He doesn’t believe in the notion of good guys and bad guys. Townie felt like writing fiction, even though it’s non-fiction. He tried hard not to judge the characters.

A caller asks why he writes. Answer: After finishing a good scene, the author feels more alive, and more like himself than he ever has before.

Show ends with John Dankosky asking about his family of writers. Is it genetic? Andres Dubus III’s father was also a writer, as well as an aunt and several cousins. Answer: He thinks it does run in his family but is not sure if it’s nature or nurture.

This show originally aired on October 24, 2011.