In this heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning, beloved and celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love.
In these linked novellas in which characters walk out the back door of one story and into the next, love is "dirty"—tangled up with need, power, boredom, ego, fear, and fantasy. On the Massachusetts coast north of Boston, a controlling manager, Mark, discovers his wife's infidelity after twenty-five years of marriage. An overweight young woman, Marla, gains a romantic partner but loses her innocence. A philandering bartender/aspiring poet, Robert, betrays his pregnant wife. And in the stunning title novella, a teenage girl named Devon, fleeing a dirty image of her posted online, seeks respect in the eyes of her widowed great-uncle Francis and of an Iraq vet she’s met surfing the Web.
Slivered by happiness and discontent, aging and death, but also persistent hope and forgiveness, these beautifully wrought narratives express extraordinary tenderness toward human beings, our vulnerable hearts and bodies, our fulfilling and unfulfilling lives alone and with others.
About the Author
Andre Dubus III is the author of Gone So Long, Dirty Love, The Garden of Last Days, House of Sand and Fog (a #1 New York Times bestseller, Oprah’s Book Club pick, and finalist for the National Book Award), and Townie, winner of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His writing has received many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Magazine Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. He lives with his family north of Boston.
First rate fiction by a dazzling talent. (starred review)
Reading these stories is like visiting a classic steakhouse where the coolly professional waiters don't hold your cultivated taste for high-concept haute cuisine against you, but rather decide to remind you what you've been missing by giving you one of the best dining experiences you've ever had.
— Jeff Turrentine
Highly recommended…. Filled with heartbreak, slices of happiness, and unrelenting hope.
— Lisa Block
It’s that just-out-of-reach desire that creates such poignancy in each of these stories, including one about a philandering bartender named Robert, who likes to pretend he’s a poet. He’s not, but Dubus is. He’s got a transparent, easy style that’s never self-consciously lyrical but constantly delivers phrases of insight and gentle wit that lay open these characters without scalding them with irony, as we’ve come to expect from so many clever novelists.
— Ron Charles
I can think of no novelist who renders the gritty, down-and-out corners of New England better than Dubus, and those beautifully specific, contained slices of American life open into whole universes of love, violence, guilt, and betrayal.
— Anthony Doerr
Fabulous…[Dubus’s] writing is as gorgeous as ever.
— Kim Curtis
[Dubus] writ[es] with…winning candor and intelligence.
— Mark Athitakis
Staggeringly good… . Dubus can home in more quickly and efficiently on a character’s inner life than any writer I’ve encountered in recent memory.
— Jeff Turrentine
Intimate short stories and novellas about the difficulty of sharing lives, about betrayal and fidelity and the emotional violence we inflict on the people we love.
— Nina MacLaughlin
Dubus delivers strong insights into bad behavior.
— Mary Pols
— Chloe Schama
[N]obody does quiet desperation better than Dubus.
The loosely linked stories vividly paint the intensity of despair, uncertainty, loneliness and affection, and the many demons that torment the soul. Dubus’s offerings feel intimate and are powerfully executed.
— April L. Judge