Novelist Andre Dubus has hit the bestseller list, been a National Book Award finalist and had one of his novels selected for Oprah's book club. But even this talented writer has had projects that ended in failure: In a 2008 BookPage interview, Dubus told us that he had been working on an autobiographical novel, but kept throwing away drafts. "Terrible, man. It was just so bad," he said. "So I think I've decided I'm not one of those fiction writers who can write from my life. It's like calling a dog. Maybe the dog just doesn't want to come."

But memoir? That, apparently, clicked: Townie (Norton) will be published on February 28, 2011. From the publisher's catalog:

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. To protect himself and those he loved from street violence, Andre learned to use his fists so well that he was even scared of himself. He was on a fast track to getting killed—or killing someone else—or to beatings-for-pay as a boxer.

Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash of worlds couldn't have been more stark—or more difficult for a son to communicate to a father. Only by becoming a writer himself could Andre begin to bridge the abyss and save himself. His memoir is a riveting, visceral, profound meditation on physical violence and the failures and triumphs of love.


Read the full interview, and our other reviews of Dubus' work, here. Are you a fan of novelists' memoirs?

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