Monday, May 12, 2014
Review of "Dirty Love" by Andrew Dubus III - Another Home Run By One of America's Great Writers
I have been following the literary career of Andre Dubus III since I read "House of Sand and Fog." That novel grabbed me by the throat and by the heart. With "Dirty Love" he continues his mastery of place and character, which are two of the things that make him such a compelling writer of both fiction and memoir.
In this latest work, he weaves together four novellas whose characters intertwine. A character may walk out the door of one story and end up on the front porch in the next novella. Dubus is a consummate story teller - both in person and on the printed page. One of the traits that makes his writing so readable and enjoyable is that he writes in gritty detail about places he knows well - the mill towns along the Merrimac River, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, Salem, Massachusetts. I love Andre's work in part because of his mastery of language and in part becomes he transports me back home. We grew up along the same river banks, and he helps me to recall the pungent smell of the clam flats at low tide, and the sea breeze wafting over the salt marches. He is a writer of senses - sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactical impressions. Reading his words awakens my senses in ways that allow me to fully enter the world he has created.
Like the tidal Merrimac River that he and I both love, the changing tides in Dubus' life have cleansed him of the rage that flowed within the banks of his soul for so long. In place of that rage is a ferocious curiosity about life and how others live their lives. He notices things, and shares those observations and insights with his readers to that we are moved to care about the fate of a young waitress living with her great uncle because her father thinks she is a slut not worthy of his love. There is an ironic purity about the love that this author has for his motley crew of characters who inhabit the pages of "Dirty Love." I encourage you to read this book and to be uplifted.