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Authors: Andre Dubus

Dancing After Hours

BOOK: Dancing After Hours
Acclaim for
Andre Dubus’
Dancing After Hours

“He is a bull outside our literary china shop.… Dubus at his best—a best unlike anyone else’s—imparts not an easy benediction but a difficult one.”

Los Angeles Times Book Review

“So deeply imagined that the lives of his characters become part of any close reader’s permanent bank of important memories.… I was stunned by the frank lyricism and generosity of vision, the unabashed spirituality, the blunt yet never tawdry writing about sex.”

Boston Sunday Globe

“Reinforces Dubus’s reputation as a deeply resonant fictional voice.… His stories are remarkable for their lyricism, for the riches Dubus uncovers in the mundane, and for the enormous generosity of spirit that infuses them.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Stories as raw and unsettling to read as they are impossible to put aside.”

Chicago Tribune

“Like Chekhov’s, Dubus’s best stories contain the arc of a whole life in the language of specific moments … beautiful … illuminating.”

Village Voice

“The bulk of these tales are perfectly turned. They join a sharp eye for the nuances of single and married life in America with a born storyteller’s ability to interpret and shape seemingly mundane materials in moving and suspenseful ways.”

Miami Herald

“His emotional probing results in a spiritual clarity, a certain shining forth of what it means to be alive and human right now, that other writers have a hard time matching.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Perfectly wrought, constructed with an intensity and artistry that no novelist—even if he is a great one— ought to try if he is not willing to give the [short-story] form its just amount of awe.… Mr. Dubus’s characters are people we more than feel for—we end up cheering for them.”

The New York Times Book Review

“A compassionate, unsentimental portrait of the American soul at this hour.… Andre Dubus is a master, and his new collection is a proud addition to one of the finest shelves of books in our literature.”

—Tobias Wolff

“More than any writer I can think of, he makes me aware of the simple pleasure of reading a story.… Andre Dubus is my hero.”

—Elmore Leonard

Andre Dubus
Dancing After Hours

Andre Dubus lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The author of nine previous books of fiction, as well as
Broken Vessels
, a collection of essays, he was a peacetime Marine Corps captain, a member of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a college teacher. Dubus won the
Boston Globe’
s first annual Laurence L. Winship Award, the PEN-Malamud Award, the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from both the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations. He died in 1999.

Also by
Andre Dubus

The Lieutenant

Separate Flights

Adultery & Other Choices

Finding a Girl in America

The Times Are Never So Bad

We Don’t Live Here Anymore

Voices from the Moon

The Last Worthless Evening

Selected Stories

Broken Vessels


1996 by Andre Dubus

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in the United States in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, in 1996.

“Sunday Morning” was originally published in
Boston Review
, “A Love Song” in
, “All the Time in the World” and “Dancing After Hours” in
, “The Timing of Sin” in
, “The Colonel’s Wife” in
, “Woman on a Plane” and “The Lover” in
, “The Intruder” in
Sewanee Review
, “Falling in Love” in
War, Literature and the Arts
, “At Night,” “Blessings,” “The Last Moon,” and “Out of the Snow” in
. “Blessings” was also published in a limited edition by Raven Editions.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to
Warner Bros. Publications U.S. Inc
. and
Arthur Schwartz Music Ltd
. for permission to reprint from “Dancing in the Dark” by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz, copyright © 1931 by Warner Bros. Inc. (renewed). Rights for extended renewal term in U.S. controlled by Warner Bros. Inc. and Arthur Schwartz Music Ltd. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Arthur Schwartz Music Ltd. and Warner Bros. Publications U.S. Inc., Miami, FL, 33014.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the Knopf edition as follows:

Dubus, Andre, [date]
Dancing after hours : stories / by Andre Dubus.
p. cm.
eISBN: 978-0-307-80191-3
I. Tide.
PS3554.U265D36 1996

813′.54–dc20 95-32032

Random House Web address:

Author photograph © Marion Ettlinger


To Jack Herlihy

and in memory of
Richard Yates and James Valhouli

I am grateful to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and Frieda Arkin, and Scott Downing; and the Thursday Nighters, who come to my home and share their work.

Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things. There is need of only one thing

—St. Luke 10:41

She thought, Once long ago, I have lived this selfsame moment, this swoon, and thought how everything is known at birth, the lather of our begetting, known, then forgotten, blotted out

—Edna O’Brien,

The Intruder

parents and his sister and because he could not tell them why he went to the woods, his first moments there were always uncomfortable ones, as if he had left the house to commit a sin. But he was thirteen and he could not say that he was going to sit on a hill and wait for the silence and trees and sky to close in on him, wait until they all became a part of him and thought and memory ceased and the voices began. He could only say that he was going for a walk and, since there was so much more to say, he felt cowardly and deceitful and more lonely than before.

He could not say that on the hill he became great, that he had saved a beautiful girl from a river (the voice
then had been gentle and serious and she had loved him), or that he had ridden into town, his clothes dusty, his black hat pulled low over his sunburned face, and an hour later had ridden away with four fresh notches on the butt of his six-gun, or that with the count three-and-two and the bases loaded, he had driven the ball so far and high that the outfielders did not even move, or that he had waded through surf and sprinted over sand, firing his Tommy gun and shouting to his soldiers behind him.

Now he was capturing a farmhouse. In the late movie the night before, the farmhouse had been very important, though no one ever said why, and sitting there in the summer dusk, he watched the backs of his soldiers as they advanced through the woods below him and crossed the clear, shallow creek and climbed the hill that he faced. Occasionally, he lifted his twenty-two-caliber rifle and fired at a rusty tin can across the creek, the can becoming a Nazi face in a window as he squeezed the trigger and the voices filled him:
You got him, Captain. You got him
. For half an hour he sat and fired at the can, and anyone who might have seen him could never know that he was doing anything else, that he had been wounded in the shoulder and lost half his men but had captured the farmhouse.

Kenneth looked up through the trees, which were darker green now. While he had been watching his battle, the earth, too, had become darker, shadowed, with patches of late sun on the grass and brown fallen pine needles. He stood up, then looked down at the creek, and across it, at the hill on the other side. His soldiers were gone. He was hungry, and he turned and walked back through the woods.

Then he remembered that his mother and father were going to a party in town that night and he would be alone with Connie. He liked being alone, but, even more, he liked being alone with his sister. She was nearly seventeen; her skin was fair, her cheeks colored, and she had long black hair that came down to her shoulders; on the right side of her face, a wave of it reached the corner of her eye. She was the most beautiful girl he knew. She was also the only person with whom, for his entire life, he had been nearly perfectly at ease. He could be silent with her or he could say whatever occurred to him and he never had to think about it first to assure himself that it was not foolish or, worse, uninteresting.

Leaving the woods, he climbed the last gentle slope and entered the house. He leaned his rifle in a corner of his room, which faced the quiet blacktop road, and went to the bathroom and washed his hands. Standing at the lavatory, he looked into the mirror. He suddenly felt as if he had told a lie. He was looking at his face and, as he did several times each day, telling himself, without words, that it was a handsome face. His skin was fair, as Connie’s was, and he had color in his cheeks; but his hair, carefully parted and combed, was more brown than black. He believed that Connie thought he was exactly like her, that he was talkative and well liked. But she never saw him with his classmates. He felt that he was deceiving her.

He left the house and went into the outdoor kitchen and sat on a bench at the long, uncovered table and folded his arms on it.

“Did you kill anything?” Connie said.

“Tin cans.”

His father turned from the stove with a skillet of white perch in his hand.

“They’re good ones,” he said.

“Mine are the best,” Kenneth said.

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