Reviews for Dirty Love
Booklist Reviews 2013 August #1
*Starred Review* Award-winning novelist Dubus (The Garden of Last Days, 2008) debuted as a short story writer nearly 25 years ago. He now reclaims the form in an incisive collection of subtly linked tales set in a changing New Hampshire coastal town. With fresh energy and conviction, Dubus explores the demands and disappointments of desire and marriage, generating a critical mass of sensory detail and refined suspense. A desperately orderly man hires a detective to follow his longtime, suddenly unfaithful wife. Two overweight loners attempt to find the intimacy other couples seem to take for granted. A bartender posing as a poet and living on charm and evasiveness suddenly faces the realities of fatherhood. In the unforgettable novella "Dirty Love," Devon is hounded out of high school when a dirty cell-phone video, recorded without her permission, is posted online. She seeks sanctuary with her great-uncle Francis, a retired teacher haunted by his experiences in the Korean War. Dubus' emotional discernment, sexual candor, penetrating evocation of place, sensitivity to family conflicts, and keen attunement to the perils of our embrace of "iEverything"--from online sexual roulette to cyberbullying and violent video games--are electrifying, compassionate, and profound. These are masterful and ravishing tales of loneliness, confusion, betrayal, the hunger for oblivion, and the quest for forgiveness. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A seven-city author tour and major national media coverage will support the latest provocative book by best-selling Dubus. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #2
Dubus anatomizes personal--especially sexual--relationships brilliantly in these loosely concatenated novellas. At the center of the characters' world are the small, economically depressed towns in Massachusetts where waiters, waitresses, bartenders and bankers live and move and have their being. To Dubus' credit, he doesn't feel he has to solve their personal problems and the intricate twists of their relationships. Instead, he chronicles what's going on with sympathy but without any sense that he needs to rescue them. In the first narrative, we meet hapless Mark Welch, who's recently found out his wife, Laura, is having an affair with a banker. Although occasionally picking up and hefting a piece of lead pipe, Mark ultimately finds himself powerless to change the circumstances of his life. In the second story we follow Marla, a physically unprepossessing bank teller (yes, she works at the same bank as Laura's lover) who feels her life slipping away from her. She begins a desultory affair with a 37-year-old engineer whose passions tend toward video games and keeping his house pathologically clean. The next story introduces us to Robert Doucette, bartender and poet manqué, who marries Althea, a sweet but reticent upholsterer. In the final months of Althea's pregnancy, Robert has hot sex with Jackie, a waitress at the restaurant, and Althea finds this out and simultaneously goes into labor. The final narrative focuses on Devon, an 18-year-old waitress at the tavern where Robert works. To get away from an abusive father, she lives with a considerate great uncle (who harbors his own secrets), but she has to deal with the unintended consequences of an untoward sexual act that was disseminated through social media. First-rate fiction by a dazzling talent. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2013 May #2
The author of House of Sand and Fog, a National Book Award finalist that Oprah also pushed, has a way of nailing how our needs lead us astray, and in this collection he does it over and over again. A bartender who'd rather be writing poetry cheats on his pregnant wife, a wife whose manager husband whips around everyone else cheats on him, and, in the title novella, a teenaged girl shamed by a dirty picture of her that's been posted online seeks confirmation of her worth from a great-uncle and an Iraq vet. [Page 52]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal Reviews 2013 September #1
The latest from the best-selling author of The Garden of Last Days and House of Sand and Fog is a collection of loosely linked novellas that explore, with devastating detail, the failings and never-ending needs of people who search for fulfillment in work, food, sex, and love. Dubus's characters are flawed individuals who discover how life is easy to screw up. Marla, an overweight young woman, at last finds love but loses herself. Robert, a bartender and aspiring poet, betrays his pregnant wife. Mark, a controlling manager, catches his wife of 25 years in an affair. And Devon, a teenage girl in the astounding and timely title novella, flees the fallout of an intimate image of herself posted online. She escapes to her uncle's house, seeking his respect, and befriends a soldier on the Internet who offers her redemption. VERDICT Filled with heartbreak, slices of happiness, and unrelenting hope, this expertly crafted collection depicts human weakness and our amazing capacity for forgiveness. Dubus fans will embrace this latest work, as will lovers of the short story and fiction. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/22/13.]--Lisa Block, Atlanta [Page 105]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 July #1
The master of naturalistic New England fiction returns with a book of four loosely connected short works that showcases his Dreisarian abilities at their most trenchant. In the superb "Listen Carefully as Our Options Have Changed," Mark Welch is a middle-aged project manager who suspects that his wife is having an affair. How he finds out and what he does about it form the core of this novella, which is affecting for all the ways the author shows how difficult it is to accept that sometimes we know the least about those we think we know best. Credit Dubus for taking a hackneyed premise and making it seem new through the specificity of his observations. One shorter work deals with Marla, an overweight bank teller, and the surprising things she discovers about herself after she falls in love for the first time; another follows Robert Doucette, a bartender-cum-poet who cheats on his pregnant wife in a way that has repercussions for their unborn daughter. In The Scarlet Letter-ish title novella, teenage Devon Brandt, after an Internet indiscretion went viral, goes off to live with her great-uncle Francis, a recent widower and Korean War veteran, and develops an online relationship with Hollis, a 27-year-old Army vet. But will she ever be able to escape her past? Once again, Dubus creates deeply flawed characters and challenges the reader to identify with their common humanity. Agent: Philip Spitzer, Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency. (Oct.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC