The wisdom of Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus reading 001

Last night I went to see Andre Dubus III, author of the amazing (but dark) House of Sand and Fog and most recently The Garden of Last Days, and let me tell you, he was fabulous. He addressed people by first name, asked us questions about ourselves, and was quite charming, amusing, and engaging overall. So much so that I ended up purchasing his book even when I told myself I wouldn’t, because quite frankly my bank account is this close to breaking up with me.

(It’s been a staggering couple of months financially, so I really appreciate all of you who have donated to my Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop fund. Thank you thank you thank you! It’s just 10 days away now and I am totally broke pumped!)

Anyway, back to Andre. He’s a professor up in Boston, so any aspiring writers out there, check that out! The rest of us will have to make do with this paraphrased wisdom:

  • As a writer, you’ll always fail more than you succeed, if you’re trying to go as deep as you can.
  • What’s so wonderful and simultaneously so scary about fiction is that it is a sustained act of empathy. (Meaning sometimes we have to go into the head of a distasteful or despicable character but still try to understand them.)
  • A good writer doesn’t need talent, but rather perseverance and curiosity.
  • Self-consciousness is the enemy (in any endeavor, not just writing) — because if you’re thinking about something, then you’re not really doing it.

(He sort of teased me for taking notes…)

Here’s me and Andre and his awesome poster, which is being mailed to him so he can show his wife exactly why he shouldn’t have to wash any dishes:

Andre Dubus reading 003

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1 Comment

  1. Wow, the “sustained act of empathy” thing is really neat – I’d never really thought about that before. But, how true.

    BTW, I am the one always taking notes at these things too. Nobody ever teased me yet but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

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