Broken Vessels

Written between 1977 and 1990, universally acclaimed when they appeared in Godine hardcover, and exploring subjects close to home and close to the bone, these twenty-two diverse essays reveal the spiritual strength and shrewdly lyrical prose for which Andre Dubus has been recognized worldwide.

Personal but never indulgent, sensitive but never maudlin, these forays into Dubus’s past and present conjure up small worlds: a Catholic boyhood in Cajun Louisiana, the transcendental quality of baseball, the luck and slipperiness of life, the precarious business of making a living by writing. These worlds are presented in a voice that is as powerful as it is poignant, that never flinches from the stark realities that have so colored Dubus’s recent past and personal life. Especially moving are his descriptions of his children, his wrenching account of the 1986 automobile accident that cost him his leg, and of the ensuing struggle for his spiritual and physical survival.

Broken Vessels is a book that, in its scope and sympathy, its grace and courage, never fails to startle with the sudden impact of quiet truths, passionately felt and powerfully expressed.

Andre Dubus was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana to a Cajun-Irish Catholic family. He graduated from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and later moved to Massachusetts, where he taught creative writing at Bradford College. His life was marked with personal tragedies, as are those of his protagonists – ostensibly ordinary men who are drawn to addiction and violence as methods to distract themselves from their woes. Unlike his characters, however, Dubus eventually found success and repute, as well as the corresponding offers from large publishers. He nevertheless remained loyal to Godine until the end of his career.