Thursday, October 01, 2009

Book Review: In The Bedroom by Andre Dubus

This collection is a series of short stories by Andre Dubus culled from his other works and is ostensibly patterned around stories that handle characters at pivotal moments in their lives. I found this theme to be what was ultimately so moving about this collection of work, particularly reading the stories all together.

The first story, "Killings" was the basis for the movie In The Bedroom, as the preface by Todd Field illuminates, and incidentally, I found "Killings" to be one of the least compelling stories in the book, perhaps because it really would make a better movie (and thus, why I am now dying to see the movie In The Bedroom).

What I found most interesting about the stories was the idea of loss as indicated by a change in one's state of mind or quality of living. Each story dealt with the idea that something big has happened and then investigated whether things could or could not go back to the way they were before. Whether this end was sought through some sort of atonement, or reminiscence, or a physical action, this return to when times were better or different was a string throughout. It felt a bit like a thought that guided you by the hand through each story, making each one richer than the one before it.

All of these stories have a heartbreaking resonance with the human spirit that is a testament to Dubus' skills as a writer. He is king of the short story, for each of his stories is exactly as long as it needs to be, and he provides the exact amount of detail necessary to satiate the reader without limiting the capacity for reader response. As a writer of short stories, it was really a treat to see someone so adept at the genre make such skill seem so effortless.

I would recommend this book to just about anyone, but particular to those who are fans of the short story format, for it is on excellent display here. My favorite stories in the book are "Rose," "The Winter Father," and "The Fat Girl," but all of them are excellent, excellent stories and I can't wait to read more Dubus.

This review was reposted and expanded from my review at Good Reads. Oh, you love reading and reviewing books, too? Join! We can be friends!

1 comment:

Emily S said...

Oooh sounds like a good book!!! May have to pick that one up!