How Were You Shaped By Your Childhood?

Question: How were you shaped by your childhood?

Andre Dubus III: Man, I grew up all over. My dad was a Marine and we were all, all four kids were born on a Marine base. And my parents divorced about nine years into the marriage, so I was about nine, and we were already kind of low income. My dad was making very little as a teacher and now his low income had to support two households and then it got worse. So we moved around a lot, probably moved two or three times a year all through my childhood. Went to a lot of schools, was the new kid in town. And you know, there are a lot worse childhoods, you know, I didn't grow up in the ghetto with guns blazing, you know, I didn't grow up in a third world country starving, but it was not a stable childhood and I think that shaped me a way that I wouldn't have known until I'd gotten older. But you know, there was a lot of violence and there was a lot of — it was just kind of a wild childhood, honestly. I've been trying to write about it for years and I haven't quite found out how to do it.

Question: What was the town you liked best as a kid?

Andre Dubus III: That's a great question. I've never been asked that. Well, you know, what, here's the thing, man. We all-- over half of our families end in divorce and we throw this term broken family around like we're discussing dentistry. It's a big deal. So to answer your question, my favorite place was the one that we lived in right before my parents split up and I think because it felt like a happy home. You know. And it was; it was a rented house out in the woods and it was a good life there, in New Hampshire, just a little rented house out in the woods and we played in the woods and it was a good time. About 1968. Of course there was all this tumult going on outside in the world. I feel shaped by that, too. My memory of my childhood is one about good men getting shot in the head. You know, I remember all of the assassinations, and you know, unlike this war, you know, we saw bodies on TV every night, with the Vietnam War. I think we should be seeing bodies on TV every night now, too. Yeah. That's some of where I come from, that time.

Recorded on: 6/11/08

A myriad of hometowns and childhood experiences feed the writing of Andre Dubus.

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