Interview Excerpt: Andre Dubus III on Cagibi Spaces

Photo by Kevin Harkins

From the editors: This is an excerpt from the full interview that has since appeared in Issue 4: Andre Dubus III: Gone So Long, the Interview.

Earlier today, editors met with Andre Dubus III in New York City to talk about his new novel, published today, Gone So Long. It is now available for purchase everywhere books are sold. Tonight, to celebrate the book’s release, at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn at 7 p.m., Dubus is in conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout.

Here is an excerpt from the interview—be sure to come back on October 12 to read the full interview in Issue 4.

Cagibi: A cagibi, loosely interpreted, is a space such as a cubbyhole, or a space where you store things. Or the workspace in which authors write. For ourselves we’ve translated it as “any shelter, no matter how tiny, that allows for big imaginings to take shape.” What comes to mind for you… We read in your memoir Townie that you were raised by a single mom with four kids in Massachusetts in small towns on the Merrimack River, without means to travel as a family for the sake of experiencing new places, or to do much of anything excerpt survive poverty. What was a cagibi or space to you?

Dubus: For me, space… I had two relationships with space. One was fleeing, and one was sanctuary. I would try to stay away from the areas where I was going to get beat up, and I would flee to areas where I felt safe. Look, cagibis—I’ve been trying to create them my whole life. It began—this is in Townie—my brother and I, we come home, and there’d be drug dealers in the house because my sister’s into drugs and my mother’s gone fourteen hours a day working. There are no other adults in our lives. And the house would be overrun. Even the house wasn’t a haven. And so we built a treehouse from stolen lumber in the backyard, and that was really a sanctuary.

Cagibi: That’s a great cagibi. A kids’ cagibi.

Dubus: That was to create a space, right. And by the way, my brother Jeb and I were always looking for havens, little hideaways. We’d dig caves in the side of sand dunes and curl up inside them…

Read the full interview here.

More about Andre Dubus III’s Gone So Long

Andre Dubus III’s first novel in a decade, Gone So Long, is published today by W.W. Norton. From the publisher:

Gone So Long book coverAndre Dubus III’s first novel in a decade is a masterpiece of thrilling tension and heartrending empathy.

Few writers can enter their characters so completely or evoke their lives as viscerally as Andre Dubus III. In this deeply compelling new novel, a father, estranged for the worst of reasons, is driven to seek out the daughter he has not seen in decades.

Daniel Ahearn lives a quiet, solitary existence in a seaside New England town. Forty years ago, following a shocking act of impulsive violence on his part, his daughter, Susan, was ripped from his arms by police. Now in her forties, Susan still suffers from the trauma of a night she doesn’t remember, as she struggles to feel settled, to love a man and create something that lasts. Lois, her maternal grandmother who raised her, tries to find peace in her antique shop in a quaint Florida town but cannot escape her own anger, bitterness, and fear.

Cathartic, affirming, and steeped in the empathy and precise observations of character for which Dubus is celebrated, Gone So Long explores how the wounds of the past afflict the people we become, and probes the limits of recovery and absolution.

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