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Becoming a Writer
Andre Dubus III is an American writer of fiction and memoir. His 1999 novel House of Sand and Fog lounged for 20 weeks on The New York Times’s Bestseller List in 2000 and 2001 and became a feature film in 2003. His 2008, based-on-real-events novel The Garden of Last Days explores the final days of one of the 9/11 terrorists, who chose to spend them indulging in the sins of the West. His 2012 memoir Townie is a profound meditation on the nature of violence. Born in 1959, Dubus obtained his bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Texas. Before succeeding as a writer, he worked odd jobs as a carpenter, bounty hunter, and bartender.
Question: Did you always want to be a writer?
Andre Dubus III: No. no. You know, I was one of these kids who secretly liked getting assigned papers to write, you know. I didn't tell my buddies that I was looking forward to writing that essay on Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, but I was. You know. And I had teachers encourage me and suggest that I might want to think about writing, but honestly, it was, it was almost like this psychic math I did, I said, well, no, there's already a writer in my family and his name's André Dubus and that's my name, so I must be something else. It wasn't even a shadow thing. It was just, I must be something else. Anyway, to compress the story I ended up getting a degree in sociology and political science and I was really, as a young guy in my 20s, I was heading towards politics and you know, fighting for social justice and social change. That's where I was going. And then I started to date a woman who was writing fiction and frankly, she had a crush on a fiction writer and I was really jealous, and she'd come home from writing class talking about Joe this, Joe that, her face was all flushed and it was obviously how much she loved Joe, and I hated Joe. So one day I'm sitting in her dorm room and she's gone and there on her bed is a story by Joe. So I pick up the story, and I hadn't read fiction in like six years-- I was reading social theory-- I pick up the story and I read it, and it's a gorgeous short story. Just about a young kid, from the point of view of a teenager, he's mopping the floor at three in the morning in a diner and two middle-aged prostitutes come in and the owner treats them disrespectfully, that's all. In the last moment as he's moping the floor, "That's not right. That's just not right." And I had a crush on Joe by the time I was done. But more importantly I felt inspired and I didn't realize that. Shortly thereafter I sat down one day and began writing what turned into my first short story, which is abysmal, really badly done, but very sincere, and I was hooked. I wouldn't call myself a writer for 10 or 15 years after that, even after I published my first book. But here's the thing, man, when I finished writing that story I felt more like me than I'd ever felt like in my life. And I do think that's a real gift to find early on. And I knew whatever I was going to do with my adult life, I still didn't know, but I knew I had to keep doing this to be me, whoever the hell I am. But I knew I had to keep writing scenes and writing about people and writing dialogue; it just felt so good. And I was quite surprised to find that inside me.
Question: What was the impulse for your content?
Andre Dubus III: Well, you know, the very first scene I wrote, I don't know why, but it was from the point of view of a young woman losing her virginity on the hood of Buick in the rain in the Maine woods. I mean, it was bad. But once I began writing-- the first story, well, the second story I ever wrote-- I ended up working in a halfway house in Colorado for convicted adult felons from the Canyon City Penitentiary. So I'm working with these inmates, some of whom have killed people, raped people, stolen from people, done some pretty terrible things, and I'm watching these grown men-- so they have weekend furloughs if they're behaving, and they can go out on dates, even though we check them for drugs and alcohol, and I remember watching these hardened criminals, really, comb their hair three different ways, change their shirt three times. You know. And they were like 16-year-old boys all over again, but they're these hardened 40-year-olds who have been in the pen for 15 years. In my very first story I was trying to capture what it might be like to be on a date with a woman for the first time in seven years after being in the joint. And that was my first published story. And I wrote about that job for about six more years and that became my first book, The Cage Keeper and Other Stories. Even then, I tend to gravitate or get pulled towards people who are in some kind of real trouble, and I try to go in as open as I can. William Stafford, the poet, has a great essay in which he says that the poet must put himself or herself in a state of receptivity where you're just allowing this thing to move through you. So the subject actually came from working with inmates, the first book.
Recorded on: 6/11/08
The son of a well-known short story writer, Andre Dubus never thought he would follow in the footsteps of his father.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.