|Photo of Andre Dubus III and me|
I mentioned Townie by Andre Dubus III in a blog post a couple of months ago as the book I read each morning over breakfast before work. Since I'm usually running behind, this often doesn't amount to more than a couple of pages read on any given day, but I like having it to look forward to each morning, and if you've already read Dubus, you know that he's a great way to start the day! I'm still only about halfway through it, but it's such a compelling portrait of a man and his life that I'm pleased to make it last as long as possible.
My store hosted an event with Dubus last night, and because we expected a large crowd, we held the event offsite at Mount Holyoke College, just across the street from our store, in a mahogany-paneled room called The New York Room. It's an attractive space to hold a reading and it feels very intimate, despite the 100 person capacity. Dubus read from his memoir but it was the Q&A session that held us spellbound. Mr. Dubus is that rare writer who can quote at length any number of other writers to illustrate a point (Flannery O'Connor, John Gardner, William Faulkner, et al), and he artfully interweaves personal anecdotes into his answers. Never once does he let on to the annoying person in the back of the room that he'd rather not answer her tenth stupid question in a row or that he's been on his feet for 10 hours and would prefer not to sign 75 books for store stock--he is the absolute portrait of graciousness. Dubus is charming, charismatic, and has the ability to focus on you so intently he can make you feel like you're the only other person in the room. And yet he also comes across as perhaps the most down-to-earth person you've ever met, an erudite beer-drinking buddy. Let me put it this way: if he ever decided to use his powers for evil, we'd be in a world of trouble.
I'll post a review of Townie once I've finished it, but until then, you'll have to take my word that Andre Dubus III is a writer and a person of the highest order.
|Dubus signing in the New York Room|