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How We Assembled Indiespensable #25

We'd love to say that we were reading Andre Dubus III before he was big. But, we'll admit that, like most of the country, we discovered him when he published his beautiful, heart-wrenching third book. Finalist for the National Book Award, #1 New York Times-bestseller, BookSense Book of the Year, and (last but not least) Oprah Book Club selection, House of Sand and Fog established Dubus as a writer to watch. It certainly grabbed our attention.

So, when we received Townie, Dubus's page-turning memoir, we thought, Hmm... Indiespensable? After reading it, we were sure. As Jill put it, "I have loved all his books. But Townie is better. It's astonishingly good." And Kim advised, "Don't miss this unforgettable book!"

For further enthusiasm, look to Dubus's fellow writers:

The best first-person account of an author's life I have ever read....I sincerely believe Andre Dubus III may be the best writer in America. His talent is enormous. No one who reads this book will ever forget it." —James Lee Burke, author of the Dave Robicheaux novels

"I've never read a better or more serious meditation on violence, its sources, consequences, and, especially, its terrifying pleasures, than Townie. It's a brutal and, yes, thrilling memoir that sheds real light on the creative process. —Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls

Not bad, eh? To complement your reading of Townie, we've included Jill's interview with Dubus on the enclosed author cards. The interview offers a deeper insight into Dubus's creative process, plus touches on several of the book's themes — violence, memory, familial tensions.

Finally, we'll admit that, while a deeply rewarding read, this memoir will run you through the ringer. So, to return the spring to your step, we've also included a pot of salted caramel sauce. Hand-crafted in Portland by Xocolatl de David, this gourmet treat can be used as a sauce for ice cream or a dip for fruit — or (as is our propensity) find a spoon and eat it straight out of the jar.

The Indiespensable Team

÷ ÷ ÷

A collective of high muckamucks, the Panjandrums largely spend their time in competitive Bananagram duels and negotiations regarding Pie Friday — not to mention painstakingly designing each installment of Powell's subscription club, Indiespensable, with the help of independent publishers and local merchants. From time to time, they find it entertaining to give you a look at the hows and whys behind the what. But, if you're yearning for more, send questions, suggestions, and random anecdotes to (They especially like stories about pets, babies, and pie fillings.)

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Townie: A Memoir
    Used Hardcover $6.95
  2. House of Sand and Fog Sale Trade Paper $7.98

4 Responses to "How We Assembled Indiespensable #25"

    John Coyle April 18th, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Probably my least favorite of the Indiespensibles so far. I made it through about 75 pages of Andre and his siblings getting beaten up and living in dreary squalor before pulling the plug. There is definately room for the Oliver Twist story out there, and yes, I recognize that this is a memoir, but it is just about as bleak as possible. By the 40th time Andre was beaten up and/or chased to be beaten up, I had enough.

    by the way, the authenticating bar below is mind numbing. I had an omega in the word. Can't find that key on my keyboard...

    Lane April 18th, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I have to agree with John Coyle. I love the whole Indiespensable concept, but Indie # 25 made me realize that I am better off choosing my own reading. I can't comprehend why this book was offered. I wish that there was an opt-out for subscribers, so that I wouldn't have to cancel and resubscribe. I much prefer fiction and would like to receive only those issues.

    The Panjandrums (Post Author) April 19th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    We wish there was a better way to say, "Thank you for your valuable feedback." Because it's absolutely true. Indiespensable is a passion for us, though more importantly, it's for you, the subscribers -- each installment a mash-up of our hopes for your vast enjoyment. But part of our goal is to introduce new books that you might *not* have otherwise chosen for yourself.

    The decision to feature a memoir this time around wasn't arrived at lightly. Ultimately, what won us over was the fact that the man himself is so extraordinary, and this particular memoir was so literary, and moved us so deeply, we just couldn't turn our backs on it.

    We absolutely appreciate that not every selection is going to suit every subscriber to a "T". Great care and consideration is given to creating variety within the program, while striving to stay true to the roots of what we feel Indiespensable is all about. This is why we leave it up to you, dear subscribers. If a particular installment doesn't knock your socks off, you are always free to return it. There is no "keep it, or else" clause hidden within your membership -- if you don't love it as much as we do, send it back! We'll even send you a pre-paid mailing label and of course, you'll be refunded in full. We wouldn't want anyone to feel obligated to hold on to a book that doesn't speak to them.

    Judy Ness April 20th, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I thought, "Another boy-angst book, oie." And, it was an amazing story - one of my favorites of the Indiespensibles collection. He writes about the making of art, the rough trip from a primal personality to authentic self, the acceptance of what is, the neutrality of spirit followed by loving kindness, the humility to receive without ego, all in word pictures both graceful and deep. Andre on the creative process: "In order for something true to come, I had to disappear."

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