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Moving Toward Redemption

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

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Andrea Ivanov-Craig

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.

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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.

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