I may be the last person on the planet to have read Andre Dubus III's heartbreaking and wonderful Townie, but I'm glad I finally did. I'm not a huge memoir reader, so it was with great trepidation I began, even though some of my favorite readers have recommended it. Memoirs can be so dry, and self-protective, and just plain boring. Not to mention poorly written, sometimes especially when by someone with as much literary clout as Dubus, although you'd think the opposite would be true. At any rate, my fears were quickly done any with. Right from the start Townie is gripping, and honest, and almost book-shutting raw. What a great balance Dubus strikes between telling his story and not making us break out the tissues, and then be mad at him for being sappy or over-sentimental. I suppose that's what makes a master a master.
Also this weekend, I spent a good amount of time listening to NPR as well as the Telling Room's podcast of their latest Slant storytelling series (the podcast is available free on their website). Hearing stories like Jonathen Safron Foer's excerpt on Selected Shorts reminds me of how heart-stoppingly beautiful words can be, and why I persist in this often-daunting craft.