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Andre Dubus

Andre Dubus

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Andre Dubus, II was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 short story
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

 writer, essayist, and autobiographer. Dubus is recognized as one of the most prolific American short-story writers in the 20th century.

Early life and education

Andre Dubus was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lake Charles is the fifth-largest incorporated city in the U.S. state of Louisiana, located on Lake Charles, Prien Lake, and the Calcasieu River. Located in Calcasieu Parish, a major cultural, industrial, and educational center in the southwest region of the state, and one of the most important in...

, the youngest child of a Cajun-Irish Catholic family. His two elder siblings are Kathryn and Beth. His surname is pronounced "Duh-BYOOSE", with the accent on the second syllable to rhyme with the noun "excuse." Dubus grew up in the Bayou country in Lafayette, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Lafayette is a city in and the parish seat of Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, United States, on the Vermilion River. The population was 120,623 at the 2010 census...

, and was educated by the Christian Brothers
Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools
The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools is a Roman Catholic religious teaching congregation, founded in France by Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle and now based in Rome...

, a Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 religious order that emphasized literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 and writing. Dubus graduated from nearby McNeese State College in 1958 as a journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

 and English major. Dubus then spent six years in the Marine Corps
Marine corps
A marine is a member of a force that specializes in expeditionary operations such as amphibious assault and occupation. The marines traditionally have strong links with the country's navy...

, eventually rising to the rank of captain. At this time he married his first wife and started a family. After leaving the Marine Corps, Dubus moved with his wife and four children to Iowa City, where he later graduated from the University of Iowa
University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is a public state-supported research university located in Iowa City, Iowa, United States. It is the oldest public university in the state. The university is organized into eleven colleges granting undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees...

's Iowa Writers' Workshop
Iowa Writers' Workshop
The Program in Creative Writing, more commonly known as the Iowa Writers' Workshop, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, is a highly regarded graduate-level creative writing program in the United States...

 with an MFA
Master of Fine Arts
A Master of Fine Arts is a graduate degree typically requiring 2–3 years of postgraduate study beyond the bachelor's degree , although the term of study will vary by country or by university. The MFA is usually awarded in visual arts, creative writing, filmmaking, dance, or theatre/performing arts...

 in creative writing
Creative writing
Creative writing is considered to be any writing, fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, and technical forms of literature. Works which fall into this category include novels, epics, short stories, and poems...

, studying under Richard Yates
Richard Yates (novelist)
Richard Yates was an American novelist and short story writer, known for his exploration of mid-20th century life.-Life:...

. He admired Hemingway, Chekhov, and Cheever.

Personal difficulties

Dubus's life was marked by several tragedies. His daughter was raped as a young woman, causing Dubus many years of paranoia over his loved ones' safety. Dubus carried personal firearms to protect himself and those around him, until the night in the late 1980s, when he almost shot a man in a drunken argument outside a bar in Tuscaloosa
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tuscaloosa is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama . Located on the Black Warrior River, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with a population of 90,468 in 2010...

, Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...


Dubus was seriously injured in a car accident on the night of July 23, 1986. He was driving from Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 to his home in Haverhill, Massachusetts
Haverhill, Massachusetts
Haverhill is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 60,879 at the 2010 census.Located on the Merrimack River, it began as a farming community that would evolve into an important industrial center, beginning with sawmills and gristmills run by water power. In the...

, and he stopped to assist two disabled motorists—brother and sister Luis and Luz Santiago. As Dubus assisted the injured Luz to the side of the highway, an oncoming car swerved and hit them. Luis was killed instantly; Luz survived because Dubus had pushed her out of the way. Dubus was critically injured and both his legs were crushed. After a series of unsuccessful operations, his left leg was amputated above the knee, and he eventually lost the use of his right leg. Dubus spent three years undergoing a series of painful operations and extensive physical therapy
Physical therapy
Physical therapy , often abbreviated PT, is a health care profession. Physical therapy is concerned with identifying and maximizing quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, diagnosis, treatment/intervention,and rehabilitation...

. Despite his efforts to walk with a prosthesis
In medicine, a prosthesis, prosthetic, or prosthetic limb is an artificial device extension that replaces a missing body part. It is part of the field of biomechatronics, the science of using mechanical devices with human muscle, skeleton, and nervous systems to assist or enhance motor control...

, chronic infections confined him to a wheelchair
A wheelchair is a chair with wheels, designed to be a replacement for walking. The device comes in variations where it is propelled by motors or by the seated occupant turning the rear wheels by hand. Often there are handles behind the seat for someone else to do the pushing...

 for the remainder of his life, and he battled clinical depression
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

 as a result of his condition. Over the course of these struggles Dubus's third wife left him, taking with her their two young daughters.

Final years

To help Dubus with mounting medical bills, Andre's friends and fellow writers Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

 and John Updike
John Updike
John Hoyer Updike was an American novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic....

 held a special literary benefit. Dubus continued to write, producing two books of essays and a collection of short stories, and conducted a weekly writers' workshop in his home, meeting with a group of young writers.

Dubus also found a deeper religious faith at this time. A practicing Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 all his life, Dubus found that the loss of his mobility drew him closer to God, and renewed his Catholic faith at a deeper level.

Dubus spent his later years in Haverhill, until his death from a heart attack in 1999, at age 62. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, near where he lived, in Haverhill, Massachusetts.


He married three times and fathered six children. His son Andre Dubus III
Andre Dubus III
Andre Dubus III is an American novelist and writer of short stories. He is a member of the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.-Early life and career:...

 is also an author, whose most noted book is the novel House of Sand and Fog
House of Sand and Fog (novel)
House of Sand and Fog is a 1999 novel by Andre Dubus III. It was selected for Oprah's Book Club in 2000 and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction.-Plot:...

(1999), both a finalist for the National Book Award
National Book Award
The National Book Awards are a set of American literary awards. Started in 1950, the Awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the current year. In 1989 the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization which now oversees and manages the National Book...

 and the basis for an Academy award-nominated film of the same title. In 2011, Andre Dubus III published a memoir of his life, Townie, which tells of growing up in Haverhill and deals extensively with his relationship with his father and the impoverished conditions faced by his mother and siblings following her divorce from Andre Dubus.

Writing career

Although he did write one novel, The Lieutenant, in 1967, Dubus considered himself primarily as a writer of short fiction. Throughout his career, he published most of his work in small, distinguished literary journals such as Ploughshares
Ploughshares is an American literary magazine founded in 1971 by DeWitt Henry and Peter O'Malley in The Plough and Stars, an Irish pub in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since 1989, Ploughshares has been based at Emerson College in the heart of Boston...

 and Sewanee Review
Sewanee Review
The Sewanee Review is a literary journal established in 1892 and the oldest continuously published periodical of its kind in the United States. It incorporates original fiction and poetry, as well as essays, reviews, and literary criticism...

. Later in his career he placed stories in magazines such as The New Yorker and Playboy. Andre remained loyal to a small publishing firm run by David R. Godine
David R. Godine
David R. Godine is the founder and president of David R. Godine, Inc., a small publishing house located in Boston, Massachusetts. The company is independent and its list tends to reflect the individual tastes of its president....

 that published his first works. When larger book publishers approached him with more lucrative deals, Dubus stayed with Godine, switching only to Alfred A. Knopf
Alfred A. Knopf
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. is a New York publishing house, founded by Alfred A. Knopf, Sr. in 1915. It was acquired by Random House in 1960 and is now part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group at Random House. The publishing house is known for its borzoi trademark , which was designed by co-founder...

 towards the end of his career to assist with medical bills.

Dubus's collections include: Separate Flights (1975), Adultery and Other Choices (1977), Finding a Girl in America (1980), The Times Are Never So Bad (1983), Voices from the Moon (1984), The Last Worthless Evening (1986), Selected Stories (1988), Broken Vessels (1991), Dancing After Hours (1996), and Meditations from a Movable Chair (1998). His writing awards include the PEN/Malamud, the Rea Award for the Short Story
Rea Award for the Short Story
The Rea Award for the Short Story is an annual award given to a living American or Canadian author chosen for unusually significant contributions to short story fiction.-The Award:...

 for excellence in short fiction, the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations. Several writing awards are named after Dubus. His papers are archived at McNeese State University
McNeese State University
McNeese State University is a public university located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in the United States. Founded in 1939 as a junior college, McNeese experienced growth due to economic activity in the region. It adopted its present name in 1970....

 and Xavier University
Xavier University of Louisiana
Xavier University of Louisiana , located in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States, is a private, coeducational, liberal arts college with the distinction of being the only historically black Roman Catholic institution of higher education...

 in Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...


Cinematic adaptations

After Dubus's death, his story "Killings
Killings is a short tale written by Andre Dubus in 1979. In 2001 the story was adapted into Todd Field's film In the Bedroom. The film starred Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, and Marisa Tomei...

" was adapted into Todd Field
Todd Field
William Todd Field, known professionally as Todd Field is an American actor and writer/director. He has received three Academy Award nominations.-Background and personal life:...

's In the Bedroom
In the Bedroom
In the Bedroom is a 2001 American crime drama film directed by Todd Field, and dedicated to Andre Dubus, whose short story Killings is the source material on which the screenplay, by Field and Robert Festinger, is based...

(2001) starring Sissy Spacek
Sissy Spacek
Sissy Spacek is an American actress and singer. She came to international prominence for her for role as Carrie White in Brian De Palma's 1976 horror film Carrie for which she earned her first Academy Award nomination...

, Tom Wilkinson
Tom Wilkinson
Thomas Geoffrey "Tom" Wilkinson, OBE is a British actor. He has twice been nominated for an Academy Award for his roles in In the Bedroom and Michael Clayton...

, and Marisa Tomei
Marisa Tomei
Marisa Tomei is an American stage, film and television actress. Following her work on As The World Turns, Tomei came to prominence as a supporting cast member on The Cosby Show spinoff A Different World in 1987...

 . The film was nominated for five Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 – Best Picture
Academy Award for Best Picture
The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to artists working in the motion picture industry. The Best Picture category is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only...

, Actor in a Leading Role
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

 (Wilkinson), Actress in a Leading Role
Academy Award for Best Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

 (Spacek), Actress in a Supporting Role
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

 (Tomei), and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Published
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source...

 (Robert Festinger & Field).

The 2004 movie We Don't Live Here Anymore
We Don't Live Here Anymore
We Don't Live Here Anymore is a 2004 drama film directed by John Curran. It is based on the short stories We Don't Live Here Anymore and Adultery by Andre Dubus.Set in Washington state, the film was shot around Vancouver.-Cast:...

is based upon two of Dubus' novellas, "We Don't Live Here Anymore" and "Adultery."

External links