Andre Dubus III

Son of the late short-story artist Andre Dubus, Andre Dubus III took a roundabout, hard-knock way of emulating his famous father. First there was divorce, which left his mother, three siblings, and him living in near poverty in early ’70s New England. Then truancy, drugs, and street fights: Dubus was initially the victim; then he bulked up as a teen and began to enjoy beating the crap out of those he deemed oppressors. His violence was righteous, or so he felt as an aimless young man, a college drop-out bouncing between blue-collar jobs. Of course we know from the success of his Oprah-endorsed novel House of Sand and Fog that Dubus eventually righted himself in front of a typewriter. How this occurred he relates in his remarkable memoir Townie (W.W. Norton, $25.95), in which he’s candid about his bloodlust and faults, yet surprisingly free of bitterness toward a wayward father who essentially abandoned his family. Dubus the son shows a different sort of courage. As a scrawny kids bullied by Massachusetts teens, he takes up body building and boxing with the goal of “making myself into a man who did not flee,” one who faced and fought his foes. In a larger sense, of course, Townie is the story of a man who learns not to flee his own wife and kids, his flawed father, and his better impulses. BRIAN MILLER

Tue., March 15, 7 p.m., 2011