Dirty Love / Andre Dubus III

I read Dirty Love at the same time I was working my way through Lorrie Moore’s Bark. (See review here). Both are short story collections and share common themes. But where Bark featured eight stories, Dirty Love has just four. The difference between them is that each of Moore’s stories is easily read in a single setting, while Dubus’ are novella length and require an extended perusal.

The stories in Dirty Love are linked, with characters in one story often turning up in the next. As the title indicates, love in these stories is “dirty,” but not in the sexual sense. Rather, the is focus on the need for love, how it often leaves one feeling helpless, affects the ego, and generates its fair share of insecurities. Portraying the minefields that relationships create throughout life, Dubus’ narratives beautifully capture the human experience of love’s darker sides.

All four stories make for compelling reading, but the two that stood out to me were Marla and Dirty Love. In the first, an overweight young woman finally finds a romantic partner, then realizes after moving in with him that he grates on her sensibilities. And yet she stays in the relationship, fearful that she might not find another. Dirty Love tells the story of a teenage girl fleeing both a compromising video of her that has been posted on the internet as well as an alcoholic father. She ends up with her widowed great uncle Francis, a man coping with his own approaching death. It is a powerful and moving story.

Dubus is a great storyteller and he backs it up with writing that sculpts fully formed characters. Compared to Moore’s creations, the people in Dubus’ stories struck me as more believable. While this might be explained simply by the difference in the stories’ lengths, I also think Dubus is the better writer. This is the first book I’ve read by him, but it certainly will not be the last.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: