I do not review books on this blog; book reviewing is a special skill I don’t have. But I do often express preferences, confess infatuations, cheerlead for my favorites.
Dirty Love, by Andre Dubus III is an astonishing book in every way, not least for its form: separate but slightly interwoven long stories (as opposed to short stories) that focus on different characters but allow peripherally reappearing characters. It’s rich, very rich—and dirty in the best way.
This description doesn’t begin to capture the quality of the book, which is why I disclaim book-reviewer mentality. I can’t explain this book, but the writing is extraordinary and I was transfixed.
So, curious about the writer and not yet having read his memoir Townie, I poked around to find out a bit about him beyond the obvious. Read Wiki for the obvious, though you won’t learn much. You do learn that he has a wife and three children.
And then I went to his website and discovered the meaning of “traveling man.” I nearly fell off my desk chair. According to his “Tour Dates” page, the man has been and will be on the road in 2014 for fifty-nine events, some of them gobbling up more than one day. And there’s travel time between dates, because he hopscotches the country (and sometimes the globe) without cease.
Take June, for instance, in sequence: Toronto, Massachusetts, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Mississippi, Louisiana, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Maine. Awesome.
How about April: Massachusetts, Florida, Italy, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
And this is a guy who says, “Whenever I’ve gone without writing two or three days at the most I feel far away from my center almost on a spiritual level and I have to get to the desk.” So with all that traveling, when and how does he get to a desk and summon enough mental wherewithal to write?
But clearly he does find it, and I would be riveted to hear how he does it. One can’t help but be knocked over by the sheer energy of the man. One little weekend trip to Richmond, another week-long trip to Oregon, and I’m ready to tear out my hair. I want to know what his secret is. No, I really mean it. How does he do it? I want what he’s got.
In an interview he gave in 2010, Dubus said, “I really feel that if I hadn’t started writing I would not have outgrown my rage. But I’ll tell you this—I’ve always loved human beings, working out and taking care of my body while helping others to do the same. So I think I might have become a family doctor in some small town. At least that’s my hope.”
I don’t think a small town could have contained his energy.
FYI / Independent Bookstores from Coast to Coast
Horton’s Books & Gifts, Carrollton, GA
Edgartown Books, Edgartown, MA
Boulder Bookstore, Boulder, CO