Author Andre Dubus III coming to High Point

Apr. 08, 2013 @ 03:03 PM

Andre Dubus III may have given up a life of violence on his journey to becoming a best-selling author, but his books still pack a powerful punch.
Three times, the author has found his books on the coveted New York Times bestseller list, with “House of Sand and Fog” — which was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated motion picture — as well as “The Garden of Last Days” and his 2011 memoir, “Townie.”
Not bad for a guy who was once on a path of destruction, before he discovered his gift for writing.
“I was a bullied kid,” explains Dubus, who will be the High Point Literary League’s featured speaker Wednesday, then sign copies of his books. “I grew up in a tough neighborhood, and around 15 I started to fight back. I became a very violent kid.”
A child of divorce, Dubus grew up in a depressed Massachusetts mill town rampant with drug use and violence. He began lifting weights and learning how to fight — in order to protect himself, his mother and his three siblings — but he let his violent tendencies get away with him.
“I became a bit of a crazed defender,” Dubus recalls. “I would go places and look for trouble — somebody hitting his wife, a bully picking on a kid, things like that — and I would just go at them. I was just exorcising these demons in me, and I knew I was on a road that was either going to get me killed or in prison.”
That’s when Dubus took up boxing — as a way of controlling his violent tendencies — and his first attempt at writing soon followed.
“One night, instead of going to the gym, something made me sit down and write a scene,” says Dubus, who was 21 at the time.
“I don’t know what made me do that, but almost immediately I felt so awake and alive and aware. For the first time in my life, I felt like me. Not long after that, I began to write my first short story, and I’ve been writing on a daily basis ever since. That was 30 years ago.”
Pursuing a writing career ultimately led Dubus away from the path he was on, he says.
“I try to write character-driven fiction,” he explains. “I think the job of a writer is not to judge, but to seek to understand. I found that I couldn’t write something in the morning, and then turn around and punch somebody that night. I stopped looking at people in a black and white way, and I began to look at them in a gray way. I learned to express myself in a way that was not about fists.”
Dubus has a new book coming out in October, “Dirty Love,” which will be a collection of linked novellas dealing with such issues as marriage, divorce, sexuality and fidelity.
Dubus has also written an original screenplay that’s being shopped around Hollywood, as well as a collection of personal essays, “and I’m getting ready to start a big, fat novel,” he says.
In the meantime, he enjoys doing a lot of public speaking, as he’ll do in High Point.
“I enjoy meeting human beings,” Dubus says, “and I particularly like talking to avid readers.”
jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579

Want to go?

Andre Dubus III will sign copies of his books at 1 p.m. Wednesday, following his presentation to the High Point Literary League.
The book-signing, which is open to the public, will be at the High Point Country Club, 800 Country Club Drive.
The author’s presentation to the Literary League is not open to the public.