I love discovering an author whose work excites me enough to seek out the rest of what he's written.
At the office there is a room labeled the Wellness Room, or perhaps it's the Well Room. Regardless, in this room there is a couch and a rolling rack of books; books that I assume have been donated/discarded by fellow employees.
I discovered this room a week or two into the new job, and I discovered many years ago that I cannot pass a rack of books (hello Half Price Books) without stopping to scan the titles for something of interest. I took a couple of books (Ash Wednesday, by Ethan Hawke the only one currently coming to mind) and they were OK; not horrible, not terribly exciting; books that, rather than being added to my bookshelf, would instead be added to my swap list on Paperback Swap.
But on my second or third visit I found a book of short stories titled Adultery and other choices, by Andre Dubus. I'm a fan of the short story; not only from a genre stand point, but as a frustrated writer I can actually envision myself completing short stories, while a novel just seems far too overwhelming. I won't say I loved it, but it was interesting. I'd never heard of Dubus and I enjoyed his writing style and his characters enough to do some research to see what else he'd written.
The first thing I discovered was that he died in 1999, which blows. Dubus is the second contemporary writer I've discovered after his death, Larry Brown being the other. Dubus was hit by a car on a Massachusetts highway in 1986. He'd stopped to help some stranded motorists and ended up getting creamed for his trouble. No, that's not what killed him. A bum heart eventually did him in. But the accident left him confined to a wheelchair, with one leg amputated above the knee and the other leg useless.
As I said, Adultery and other choices was OK. I've since read In the Bedroom and Meditations from a Moveable Chair, both of which I enjoyed more. A devout Catholic, Meditations is a collection of essays in which Dubus discusses his life post-accident, how he's dealt with being, as he calls it, a cripple, his faith in God and the craft of writing. Two other books by Dubus are currently en route through the PBS, The Last Worthless Evening and Dancing After Hours.
Dubus wrote a story call The Killing, which was the basis for the movie In the Bedroom. I've never heard of it, but I guess it was good enough to garner a few Oscar nods. The movie We Don't Live Here Anymore (also new to me) was based on two of Dubus's short stories, We Don't Live Here Anymore and Adultery.
If you're interested, below is Dubus's complete bibliography.
- The Lieutenant (novel, 1967)
- Separate Flights (stories, 1975)
- Adultery and Other Choices (stories, 1977)
- Finding a Girl in America (stories, 1980)
- The Times Are Never So Bad (stories, 1983)
- Voices from the Moon (novella, 1984)
- The Last Worthless Evening (stories, 1986)
- Selected Stories (stories, 1988)
- Broken Vessels (essays, 1991)
- Dancing After Hours (stories, 1996)
- Meditations from a Moveable Chair (essays, 1998)
- In the Bedroom (stories, 2001)
My readers must be a bunch of illiterate slobs.