The Book That Changed My Life

Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus III was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist in Fiction for House of Sand and Fog.

Thank you for your letter, and for this opportunity for me to contribute to The Books That Changed My Life. The following is a brief list of some of those books from over the years:

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Bear and Other Stories by William Faulkner
Open Secrets by Alice Munro
This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff
The Times Are Never So Bad by Andre Dubus (One of my late father's books.)
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry
Father and Son by Larry Brown
Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison
Monsenor Quijote by Graham Greene
Selected Stories by Nadine Gordimer
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
The Infinite Passion of Expectation by Gina Berriault
The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake by Breece D'J Pancake

I read Breece D'J Pancake's collection of stories just when I was beginning to writing seriously at age twenty-two. There was something in them I wasn't sure I'd read anywhere else before, an emotional - even spiritual - nakedness on the page, a sort of lost-but-still-groping authorial presence I found quite compelling. There was a hard edge to the characters and their stories but suffused through all of this was a deeply compassionate light, Pancake's vision, which moved and, ultimately, inspired me.

For this reason, I'd have to say this relatively unknown collection by a young writer kickstarted my writing life, showed me a form of expression I tried to emulate on the way to finding my own voice and my own vision of things.


Andre Dubus III