Short Story Day Thirteen – A Father’s Story

13. A Father’s Story
Andre Dubus

Click to access FathersStory.pdf

This is day Thirteen of my Month of Short Stories – a story a day for June.

This Sunday is Father’s Day – so I should rearrange my story order and have this one, A Father’s Story, moved to that day. Fuck it. I don’t hold much to the commercial holidays, the ones that are created simply to get people to buy gifts, stir the retail pot, make some cash – so I won’t stoop.

One interesting tidbit about Father’s Day – if you want to know where we stand. From Snopes – While Mother’s day is the biggest holiday for phone calls, Father’s day is the busiest day for collect calls. Yeah Dad, we’ll talk with ya, but you’re gonna have to pay for it.

Andre Dubus is a master of the short story. He writes without artifice… without messing around – he tells tales of humanity, of ordinary people faced with extraordinary moral choices and coming through them, without a perfect solution, but at least doing the best that they can. Then they have to wait and see if they can live with themselves.

Today’s story, A Father’s Story, is very good, read it and understand.

To add depth to the tale, read and understand a little bit about the author’s life. There is something to be said for the writer – like Pynchon or Salinger, that remains private so that his creations can live their lives on their own and you can judge them fairly and independently. But there is also something to be said for getting to know a little bit about the author, and trying to feel a bit about how he must have felt about putting the words down on paper.

Watch the youtube below and listen to the words of Andre Dubus III, the writer’s son (an author himself – he wrote the acclaimed House of Sand and Fog) as he talks about his father and compare him to the Luke character in the story, his love of opera, and open space, and his thoughts on being a human being.

In 1986, Dubus stopped on his way home to help a brother and sister. Their car had been disabled after hitting an abandoned motorcycle in the road. As he walked the injured sister to the shoulder, another car slammed into the three of them. The brother was killed and his sister survived because Dubus pushed her out of the way. Dubus himself was critically injured. He survived and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

I thought about how the accident had influenced the story, especially the harrowing scene when the father is trying to find out if the blonde boy in the ditch is alive or not. Then, I looked it up and realized the story was written three years before the author was involved in the accident.

A Father’s Story is about the author’s relationship with his daughter and how far he is willing to go to spare her suffering. It’s interesting what he says he would have done if it had been his son instead. But it is also about his relationship with God, and love, and imperfection, both human and divine.

It is not hard to live through a day, if you can live through a moment. What creates despair is the imagination, which pretends there is a future, and insists on predicting millions of moments, thousands of days, and so drains you that you cannot live the moment at hand.
—A Father’s Story, by Andre Dubus