Sometimes it’s the little things – the touch of a hand, a sudden change in plans – that set off a chain of life-changing events. In the days before 9/11, a stripper named April brings her daughter to work at the Puma Club for men because her babysitter is in the hospital. Franny stays in the office watching the Little Mermaid, while April works. Tonight, a foreigner with lots of cash keeps April from checking on her daughter and a regular patron fumes in the parking lot after he’s been kicked out of the club. A widow tries to confront her own fears and a bouncer tries to protect April. When the sun comes up, none of these characters will be the same.
Even though I would have preferred a little less description of the strip club, what I found most compelling about this book was the way that Dubus humanizes some of the less mainstream, but ever present members of society. It is easy to judge people for their actions, but Dubus tries to guide us through the thought-process of how someone can rationalize bad decisions or criminal behavior.
If you live in the area, Andre Dubus III will be reading and signing books here at the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers on July 31 at 7pm. Tickets are required. Admission is free. You might also want to check out this interview with Dubus discussing the book.