Moving Toward Redemption

Spirituality and Disability in the Late Writings of Andre Dubus (1936–1999)

by Andrea Ivanov-Craig (Author)
©2017 Monographs XIV, 132 Pages


American short-story writer Andre Dubus (1936–1999) was a “writer’s writer.” His acclaimed collections of short stories and essays involve one or all of three thematic discourses – that of the Catholic Church as center of meaning and value, the symbolic and healing power of rites and ritual on the human heart, and the ethical and spiritual dilemmas that drive human experience. “Like Chekhov’s” reports the Village Voice, “Dubus’s best stories contain the arc of a whole life in the language of specific moments.” Tobias Wolff summarized, “Andre Dubus is a master.” In 1986, however, Dubus lost the use of his legs when he attempted to help a stranded motorist on the highway. The spiritual, physical and emotional suffering which ensued kept him from writing for a time but eventually led to his authoring 17 stories before his death in 1999. Moving Toward Redemption is a critical six-chapter study of these stories as they are united as capstones to his previous work, as they participate in the Catholic cycle of sin, suffering and sacramentality, and as they individually address the various transformations of his life in the aftermath of the accident. Moving Toward Redemption is the only book on Dubus’s writing since Thomas Kennedy’s A Study of the Short Fiction (1988). It is designed for use in courses on short fiction, religion and literature, life writing, genre study, and disability studies. It suggests ways to negotiate the conflicts and tensions between Christian and secular approaches to disability studies.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Moving Toward Redemption
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Chapter Two: Father Stories: Paternity, Identity, and Primal Fatherhood
  • Chapter Three: “Sisters” as Dubus’s Last Word on Suffering Rape
  • Chapter Four: The LuAnn Cycle
  • Chapter Five: Dubus’s Aesthetic of Disability
  • Chapter Six: Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index
  • Series index

← viii | ix →




Fig.  1.Aeneas leaves Troy carrying his father Anchises and leading his son Ascanius, Image 1. French Tapestry by Unknown, 1670–80. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.
Fig.  2.Photographic illustration for the essay “Carrying” by Andre Dubus. Photograph by The Boston Globe/Michele McDonald/Getty Images. ← ix | x →

← x | xi →




I would first like to thank the staff of Peter Lang, Publishing, Inc. for their patience and support: namely, Ms. Michelle Salyga, my Acquiring Editor, for offering me this opportunity to publish; secondly, Ms. Jackie Pavlovic, my Production Editor, who, along with Ms. Salyga, was there to answer questions and offer guidance.

This book would not have been possible without the financial support of Azusa Pacific University. This study was partially funded by a research grant (2014–15), and a publication assistance grant (2015–16) from the Azusa Pacific University Faculty Research Council. I also wish to thank Dr. David Esselstrom, Chair of the Department of English, and Dr. Jennifer Walsh, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, for awarding me three credits of research time in the fall of 2015. Prior to that, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as the Provost’s Office of Azusa Pacific University contributed funding in the form of additional course release units and a sabbatical. I humbly thank my colleague in the Department of English, Carole Lambert, for guidance and support specific to this project. Lastly, I want to thank my colleague Kristen Sipper-Denlinger, and Mercedes James and Ryan Dodge, graduates of APU, who assisted with the preparation of the manuscript.

In terms of the extended APU community, thanks goes to Mario Ferrante for permission to quote from my interview with him dated 26 March 2016 in Azusa, California. All rights reserved. His art and writing are an inspiration to many. ← xi | xii →

I would like to acknowledge that a version of Chapter 3, “Sisters’ as Dubus’s Last Word on Suffering Rape,” originally appeared as “Doing Penance in the Old West: ‘Sisters’ as Andre Dubus’s Last Word on Suffering Rape” in Renascence 60.3 (Spring 2008): 251–269, print. In addition, a version of Chapter 5, Dubus’s Aesthetic of Disability, originally appeared as “Andre Dubus’s Christian Aesthetic of Disability” in Andre Dubus/Andre Dubus III, a special issue of the Xavier Review 30.2 (Fall 2010): 20–37, print. I am grateful to the editors of Renascence and the Xavier Review for use of that material here. All rights reserved.

I wish to acknowledge the permission to quote from unpublished manuscripts and letters of Andre Dubus from the Andre Dubus Collection at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas, Austin. I made similar and valuable use of such unpublished material held by the Huntington Library, in San Marino, CA. Permission to quote was also granted by the official copyright holders to all unpublished material by Dubus, the Andre Dubus Estate, administered by the Phillip Spitzer Literary Agency. All rights reserved.

On a personal note, I wish to thank members of the Dubus family with whom I was fortunate enough to speak, however briefly; and for the wonderful hospitality offered up by Pat Dubus and Andre Dubus III in April of 2010, and especially by Kathryn Dubus, who met with me on more than one visit to Baton Rouge. I especially wish to thank Suzanne C. Dubus for permission to quote from an interview of 8 April 2010, and Kathryn Dubus, for the permission to quote from our interviews and email correspondence dating between 2009 and 2010. All rights reserved. Words do not suffice to express my respect and esteem for this special family, who have had to endure many such requests for information but were so kind and patient with mine.

Finally, my family, extended and immediate, by blood and by love, have been a constant source of support. Mostly, they have sacrificed time with me and tended to the housekeeping, so to speak. I thank all of them from the very depths of my soul, and to them I dedicate this book.

← xii | 1 →




American short-story writer Andre Dubus once told his friend, Father Patrick Samway, that he viewed “the whole world as a Catholic” (“Interview with Andre Dubus,” 22 July 1986, Part I, 129). His acclaimed fiction and essays involve one or all of three thematic discourses—that of the Catholic Church as center of meaning and value, the symbolic and healing power of rites and ritual on the human heart, and the ethical and spiritual dilemmas that drive human experience. Dubus has been favorably reviewed by Tobias Wolff, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, and several publications by popular, scholarly, and literary presses. Such comments range from the Village Voice’s review – “Like Chekhov’s, Dubus’s best stories contain the arc of a whole life in the language of specific moments” (Powers) – to Tobias Wolff’s unqualified admiration: “Andre Dubus is a master” (xiii). As well as winning Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, Dubus merited several awards, such as the Rea Award for excellence in short fiction, and the Jean L. Stein award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Over the course of his career, four of his short stories were anthologized in the Best American Short Stories series, two more won the Pushcart Prize, and, in 1997, his last collection of short fiction, Dancing After Hours, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.


XIV, 132
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (January)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XIV, 132 pp.

Biographical notes

Andrea Ivanov-Craig (Author)

Andrea Ivanov-Craig, Ph.D., is Professor of English at Azusa Pacific University, where she has been a faculty member since 1995. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Redlands in Southern California and her doctorate in English at the University of Southern California. Her work on the Catholic short-story writer Andre Dubus includes “Andre Dubus’s Christian Aesthetic of Disability” published in Xavier Review (2011) and “Doing Penance in the Old West: ‘Sisters’ as Andre Dubus’s Last Word on Suffering Rape” published in Renascence (2008). She has done multiple presentations on various aspects of Dubus’s work since the year 2000. Additionally, she has had the privilege to meet and interview most of his family and be the first scholar to examine his papers at the University of Texas, Austin (2010). She currently teaches a course on American Catholic writers.


Title: Moving Toward Redemption
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147 pages