The Cape’s rich heritage of public libraries and independent bookstores has not escaped the notice of one bestselling author who frequently visits friends on the Cape and will soon give a talk here.
“I’m particularly struck by how many thoughtful readers of books seem to live in the towns of Cape Cod,” Andrew Dubus III said in an email interview last week. “I’m also struck by its volume of public libraries and independently-owned bookstores. (I’ve never bought anything on Amazon and never will.)” Dubus calls indie bookstores and libraries “two institutions without which our democracy would perish. So it’s always a pleasure to head south to Cape Cod.”
Dubus, who has written eight books, will be speaking during a brunch and author talk sponsored by the Chase Library in West Harwich. Chase Library, housed in a 1911 building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, itself offers an example of what Dubus praises. Chase Library is one of two “non-municipal libraries” in Harwich. (The other is the Harwich Port Library.) Chase Library is independently owned and governed and is not a part of the CLAMS system that the Brooks Free Library and most of the Cape’s libraries belong to. Yet Chase library is open to all, and does not charge for a library card.
On Facebook, the library describes itself as “an authentic neighborhood library in West Harwich where the staff knows your name. Stop by and browse and enjoy a cookie and a smile.” The library’s interior is charming. With its fireplace and mantel, wooden bookshelves and polished wood floors it’s like something out of your childhood.
Dubus came to fame two decades ago with his novel “House of Sand and Fog” which was selected for Oprah’s Book Club in 2000, was a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction, and was adapted into a 2003 film of the same name starring Ben Kingsley.
In 2012 Dubus released his vivid memoir, “Townie.” His father, Andre Dubus II, was an eminent short story writer and essayist who left the family for a student in the 1970s. In “Townie,” Dubus describes growing up in a depressed mill town surrounded by drugs and violence. Meanwhile his father, who taught at nearby Bradford College, took the three children out on Sundays, showing them another way of life.
In response to a question asking if he had any Cape Cod connections, Dubus responded, “I grew up in the depressed mill towns of the Merrimack Valley, the son of a single mother. There was little money for travel or vacations, so I spent very little time on the Cape as a kid.” As an adult, however, “I have friends on the Cape, whom I visit often. I also teach fairly regularly at Provincetown’s Fine Arts Work Center, which I love.” He will, in fact, teach a workshop called “Do Not Think, Dream: Fiction & Creative Nonfiction” from June 23 to June 28 this summer.
During the academic year Dubus is a professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, in the English Department.
Last October, Dubus released his latest novel, “Gone So Long” (W.W. Norton & Company).
“I may do a very brief reading from it, then spend most of my time talking about the challenges of writing it,” he says.
“Gone So Long” is Dubus’s first novel in 10 years. In it, Dubus tells the story of a man named Daniel Ahearn who is “estranged for the worst of reasons” from his daughter Susan. A full 40 years ago Daniel committed an act of violence that had a ripple effect on those around him. Four decades later, his act of violence still resonates. Now that Daniel is ill and possibly nearing the end of his life, Daniel seeks Susan out, setting the story in motion. Will Susan welcome her long-lost father? Will those around Susan be welcoming? The novel tackles big themes such as forgiveness and redemption. And like all of Dubus’s books, it is a compelling story.
“I have noticed over the years that people are particularly interested in the creative writing process and like hearing about it from various writers engaged in it,” Dubus says. “So yes, I welcome any and all questions about what remains a largely mysterious act. That said, I teach creative writing and work hard to demystify the tools that can penetrate the mystery of the imagination, a miraculous thing which every child gets.”
Dubus will speak about “Gone So Long” during a brunch sponsored by the Chase Library in West Harwich on Wednesday, May at 11 a.m. The buffet brunch will be held at Riverway Lobster House, 1338 Route 28, South Yarmouth. Tickets are available for $40 at the library, 7 Route 28, West Harwich on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Saturdays from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or by calling the library at 508-432-2610.
Author Andrew Dubus III
At the Riverway Lobster House, South Yarmouth
Sponsored by Chase Library
Tickets and information: 508-432-2610