A recent immigrant from the Middle East—a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force—yearns to restore his family’s dignity in California. A recovering alcoholic and addict down on her luck struggles to hold onto the one thing she has left?her home. And her lover, a married cop, is driven to extremes to win her love.
Andre Dubus III’s unforgettable characters—people with ordinary flaws, looking for a small piece of ground to stand on—careen toward inevitable conflict. Their tragedy paints a shockingly true picture of the country we live in today.
Andre Dubus III is the author of Gone So Long, Dirty Love, The Garden of Last Days, House of Sand and Fog (a #1 New York Times bestseller, Oprah’s Book Club pick, and finalist for the National Book Award), and Townie, winner of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His writing has received many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Magazine Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. He lives with his family north of Boston.
ChiChi Maggiordino will do anything to get God's attention. She will hold her breath, stand on tiptoe for an hour, walk a mile backward, climb all stairs on her knees... anything. When her grandmother teaches her how to use the Evil Eye, telling her it's how Jesus Christ made his miracles and how the Italians got rid of Mussolini, ChiChi realizes it's what her prayers have been missing. Now she can get started on the business of making her mother happier by helping her find love, and healing her brother's weak lungs.
But ChiChi's family lives in Minneapolis, and it's the 1950s. For an Italian immigrant family, sometimes it seems like nothing can make life easier. ChiChi's mother still pines for her husband, a long-dead American soldier; ChiChi's brother is disdainful of her sacrifices and penance-he doesn't understand what his older sister already knows, that sometimes God needs to be bribed.
When her grandmother passes away, ChiChi steps up her search for meaning and happiness, but it seems to be fruitless. And she struggles, the way so many women do, because her love for her family is suffocating, even while it fulfills her.
It's not until she meets two Italian dwarves, and they teach her of the ancient clown tradition, the commedia dell'arte, that she comes to understand that in order to make everyone else happy, she herself must be happy.
But first she must find her own way in the world... and learn to accept that not even the power of the Evil Eye can keep people from changing.
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After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their overworked mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and everyday violence. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash between town and gown, between the hard drinking, drugging, and fighting of "townies" and the ambitions of students debating books and ideas, couldn’t have been more stark. In this unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Dubus shows us how he escaped the cycle of violence and found empathy in channeling the stories of others—bridging, in the process, the rift between his father and himself.