Dubin's Lives: A Novel (FSG Classics)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
With a new introduction by Thomas Mallon
Dubin's Lives (1979) is a compassionate and wry commedia, a book praised by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt in The New York Times as Malamud's "best novel since The Assistant. Possibly, it is the best he has written of all."
Its protagonist is one of Malamud's finest characters; prize-winning biographer William Dubin, who learns from lives, or thinks he does: those he writes, those he shares, the life he lives. Now in his later middle age, he seeks his own secret self, and the obsession of biography is supplanted by the obsession of love--love for a woman half is age, who has sought an understanding of her life through his books. Dubin's Lives is a rich, subtle book, as well as a moving tale of love and marriage.
Gerald, during the winter months, had come wintry silence. She was worried. Later, her eyes uncertain, downcast, Kitty asked Dubin, “Would you care to come with me?” He had expected it. “What’s the good of it if I go with you? We need time away from each other.” He had had, that morning, a loving note from Fanny: “Lover, father, friend—love me, I love you.” The self-conceived defensive ice had broken; the river of feeling flowed. “I’ll go alone,” Kitty said. He approved, shame contained. She
applied. They’re taking more women nowadays and I have good grades even if it did take me six years to knock off my B.A.” They had talked before about studying law and talked of it now as they lay in bed. Dubin had told her about his own disappointing experience as a lawyer. “I got little pleasure out of it though perhaps the fault was mine for not being more patient. I could have changed the nature of my practice if I wasn’t so anxious about making a living. I lived on cases involving small
feeling a long sense of future pleasure: savored the joys of accretion, of laboring and constructing order; appreciative of the self who served him best. One early afternoon a few days after they had kissed, Fanny tapped on his door and Dubin opened it imagining she had finished Short Lives and would want to know if they could talk about it. But she apologized for not yet having read the book—had merely knocked to say hello. She seemed unsure of herself calling on him in his study. Her eyes were
although Kitty had offered to shoo them with a newspaper. He had bought a rectangular pine table for a desk and transported two chairs from the attic room. Kitty gave him a floor lamp she had got as a wedding present when she married Nathanael; and Dubin bought a sofa that converted into a bed in case he felt like sleeping out in the heat of summer. She suggested putting in a phone but he resisted: “It costs money.” “Suppose I need you in a hurry?” “When have you since the kids grew up?” There
Trenton, and when I was seventeen we moved to L.A. I like the country, though, and have since I was small and was sent to camp. I once thought of majoring in environmental studies—preserving animals, forests, the land, you know.” “Why didn’t you?” “I got good enough grades but my heart wasn’t in staying in college. I was restless with myself.” He pointed to buttercups, then daisies. “Those are oxeye daisies. Do you know what the word means?—the day’s eye, Fanny—beautiful, the sun in a flower.”