Townie

By Andre Dubus, III
(W. W. Norton & Company, Hardcover, 9780393064667, 387pp.)

Publication Date: February 2011

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the March 2011 Indie Next List
“This is an intensely courageous portrait of growing up after Dubus' renowned writer father leaves his mother, him, and his three siblings to confront the desolate, broken-down world of the mill towns of Massachusetts while he, in turn, teaches in nearby elitist colleges. Dubus bravely bares the veins of violence, fear, survival and love with a tender toughness, a linguistic grace, and an utter absence of rancor that places him among the most effective American memoirists writing today.”
-- Margot Liddell, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT


Description
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 everyday violence. To protect himself and those he loved, Andre started pumping iron and learned to use his fists so well that he became the kind of man who could send others to the hospital with one punch, and did. Irresistibly drawn to stand up for the underdog, he was on a fast track to getting killed or killing someone else. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash of worlds between town and gown, between the hard drinking, drugging, and fighting of townies and the ambitions of well-fed students debating books and ideas, couldn t have been more stark or more difficult for a son to communicate to a father. Only by finally putting pen to paper himself did young Andre come into his own, discovering the power of empathy in channeling the stories of others and ultimately bridging the rift between his father and himself. An unforgettable book, Townie is a riveting and profound meditation on physical violence and the failures and triumphs of love."



Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. Although the chronology of Dubus’s memoir spans his life from young childhood until 1999, Townie opens with a vignette from his adolescence, in which he goes long-distance running with his father. Why does Dubus begin his story with this particular event? What do we learn from this scene alone about Dubus’s life?

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