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Cover image for Gone so long : a novel
Gone so long : a novel
First edition.
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2018]
Physical Description:
452 pages ; 25 cm
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.
Geographic Term:



Call Number
Dubus, A.
Dubus, A.

On Order



Andre Dubus III's first novel in a decade is a masterpiece of thrilling tension and heartrending empathy.

For as long as she can remember, Susan Dunn has been trying to escape. But peace and happiness have always eluded her¯now an adjunct professor, she is tortured by the novel she cannot finish, and a lack of feeling toward a husband who loves her. Just when she's ready to abandon everything to try again, she receives a letter that forces her to reckon with the trauma that first sent her running: her mother's murder at the hands of her father, Daniel Ahearn, forty years ago.

Daniel, out of prison and living a spartan life, has written Susan with his dying wish: to see her for the first time since a policeman tore her from his arms. But does she want to see him, and confront the reason he's been gone so long? What could Daniel possibly offer the daughter he robbed of a family? As the story moves toward a possible reunion, it pulses with emotion, probing the limits of our capacity to forgive. Like Dubus's award-winning Townie and House of Sand and Fog , Gone So Long is a profound exploration of the struggle between our best intentions and most mercurial desires.

Author Notes

Andre Dubus III was born on September 11, 1959 in Oceanside, California. He is the son of the acclaimed writer Andre Dubus, and mystery writer James Lee Burke is his cousin. Dubus attended Bradford College, where his father taught, and then switched to the University of Texas at Austin where he studied sociology, political science and economics. He dropped out of a Ph.D. program, signed on at a construction site, and began boxing. A friend convinced Dubus to start writing, and he wrote in his spare time till getting a job teaching writing at Emerson. He has also worked as a private investigator, corrections counselor, and bounty hunter, as well as various other jobs. As an actor he has appeared in numerous stage plays and three independent films. He is also a general contractor and carpenter.

Dubus is the author of the story collection The Cage Keeper and other Stories and the novels Bluesman, House of Sand and Fog (which was a finalist for the 1999 National Book Award and was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film), and The Garden of Last Days. Dubus has garnered other distinctions, including a Pushcart Prize and a 1985 National Magazine Award for Fiction. He has also been published in short story anthologies, The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and numerous literary reviews. Dubus teaches creative writing courses at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and has also taught writing at Harvard University and Tufts University.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Dubus (Townie) renders this story of love, jealousy, guilt, and atonement in a voice that rings with authenticity and evokes the texture of working-class lives. Danny Ahern and Linda Dubie grow up in the same town north of Boston. As teenagers, Danny is awkward and unattractive, while Linda is beautiful and smart. Their love affair and marriage is a blue-collar Beauty and the Beast, but Danny's wild love for his wife turns to jealousy and fear that she will leave him. When that seems imminent, he fatally stabs her in a moment of madness, while their three-year-old daughter, Susan, looks on uncomprehendingly. Danny goes to prison, and Susan is raised by her maternal grandmother, a woman locked in hatred and bitterness about her daughter's tragic demise. After a terminally ill Danny is released 40 years later, he hopes to find Susan. Susan, meanwhile, has never been able to feel real love, and even in her marriage to a kind and understanding man, she is trapped in self-doubt and depression. As the aftereffects of the murder continue to reverberate through their lives, events move to a climax during a hot night in Florida where Susan, newly pregnant, and her father finally confront each other. Though the entire cast is vividly drawn, perhaps most impressive is how Dubus elicits sympathy in the reader for Danny, whose life effectively ended the moment he picked up the knife. This is a compassionate and wonderful novel. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

An ex-convict in his 60s pays a visit to the daughter he hasn't seen since the night he murdered her mother in 1973.Danny "The Sound" Ahearn was "head DJ in the glass booth on the Himalaya ride, the job every young man on the beach would bleed for." Linda Dubie was the sweet, sexy daughter of the guy who owned the Penny Arcade in their beach town north of Boston. Their insatiable hunger for each other led to marriage, then to the birth of a baby girl they called Suzie Woo Woo, and finally, one night when their daughter was 3, a jealous rage with irrevocable consequences. Linda's mother, Lois, sold the arcade and moved with her granddaughter, Suzie, to Florida, where she became an antiques dealer. Now in her early 40s, Susan is married to a kind man named Bobby Dunn. She teaches college English and is working on a memoir of her childhood, draft sections of which are included here. What Susan doesn't know is that her now ailing father is putting things in order, writing his will, and setting off down the East Coast in hopes of seeing her once more before he dies. Dubus (Dirty Love, 2013, etc.) puts this pot on a very slow boil, continuing to fill in the backstory as he inches the characters toward their climactic meeting, some of them carrying firearms. Grim, hopeless situations are this author's specialty, but the care he takes in the emotional development of his flawed characters buoys them against the undertow. Danny Ahearn is a uniquely sympathetic murderer, and the window we are given into Susan's memories and emotions through drafts and excerpts from her memoir brings us very close to her as well.Dubus is in his gritty wheelhouse, exploring the question of how we live with our mistakes and whether we can ever stop adding to them. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Gifted storyteller Dubus follows his short story collection, Dirty Love (2013), with his first novel in 10 years, which finds adjunct composition professor Susan Dunn taking some time away from her husband, Bobby, ostensibly to work on the book that has long eluded her. While staying with her grandmother Lois, Susan begins to unravel the suppressed emotional trauma she experienced when her father killed her mother in a fit of jealous rage when Susan was just three years old. Her father, Daniel Ahearn, in an advanced stage of prostate cancer, wishes to see Susan before he dies, seeking forgiveness for the violent act that has haunted him for 40 years. Dubus evokes a dazzling palette of emotions as he skillfully unpacks the psychological tensions between remorse and guilt, fear and forgiveness, anger and love. Susan, Daniel, and Lois are fully realized and authentic characters who live with pain and heartache while struggling to fill the tremendous void created by the tragedy. Heartrending yet unsentimental, this powerful testament to the human spirit asks what it means to atone for the unforgivable and to empathize with the broken. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Dubus, the recipient of many literary honors and a reader favorite, will tour nationally, while media coverage will be vigorous.--Bill Kelly Copyright 2018 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

in andre dubus urs best-selling memoir, "Townie," he describes his difficult childhood with a certain amount of complicated nostalgia. The first few years of his life were happy and bohemian. His parents were social and literary, his mother was beautiful, an excellent cook. It was only after his father ran off with one of his students, prompting a slow-motion divorce, that Dubus knew real hardship. His family (he has three siblings) began moving from one cheap rental to another in failing provincial towns where casual violence (between neighbors and among classmates) became a part of his everyday life. "When I thought of the word man," he writes, "I could only think of those who could defend themselves and those they loved." His new book, "Gone So Long," is a fictional exploration of this dangerous idea. Daniel Ahearn grows up in a beach town north of Boston. An ugly boy, hooknosed, with narrow-set eyes, he is picked on by other kids (as Dubus was) and learns to deal with this problem by succumbing to sudden and violent overreactions. His only recognizable talentis his voice: He has big "pipes." The second-best thing that ever happens to him is that he gets a job as the D.J. for a carnival ride. The best thing follows from that: He meets a beautiful young woman named Linda, they have a child together, they get married. But when he catches other guys looking at her and beats one of them up, she doesn't take his side. Later, when she threatens to leave him, he kills her with a kitchen knife in a fit of rage while their 3-year-old daughter looks on. All of this happens more or less in the back story. The novel's action takes place 40 years later, after Daniel has done his time and is dying of prostate cancer. He wants to see his daughter, Susan, before he goes. The narrative shifts between his point of view and those of Susan (an adjunct professor at a college in Florida, working on a novel) and Lois, the grandmother who raised her and shielded her from any contact with her father. The problem of Daniel's violent male temper is mirrored by the problem of Susan's beauty. Like her mother, she has spent her life coping with, defending herself from and sometimes relying on her ability to attract male attention, an "account" she can draw on whenever she wants, but at the expense of normal, loving relationships. There are other parallels between father and daughter. Both are trying to "write" the central event of their lives in a way that doesn't belittle or sensationalize it. In a letter to his daughter, Daniel is taking on a seemingly impossible task: trying to explain himself, trying to persuade her to see him. For her part, Susan is trying to work through her writer's block on a novel by creating a kind of free-association memoir of her relationships with men. For Susan, like Dubus, the misery of her life is also a source of authenticity. She worries that she "uses" men, then runs away from them. This includes her husband, Bobby, a musicologist who specializes in free-form jazz (life is too messy to try to give it a shape) and the only man who has ever been good to her. Daniel, meanwhile, has responded to the problems accompanying male sexuality by cutting himself off from all meaningful contact with women. Susan fears that any reunion will force her to confront "the soft black guts of her shame itself." She's his daughter, after all. These are hard things to write about and Dubus asks difficult questions. What do you do with a man who has done what Daniel Ahearn has done? How do you sympathize with him? Dubus does a good job of making Daniel's self-justifications seem simultaneously plausible and crazy. (He takes full responsibility for the murder, but also blames it on third-person versions of himself that he calls Danny or Captain Suspicion or The Reactor.) Dubus writes well about class - not so much the clash between different ends of the social ladder as the internal conflict that determines whether someone will rise or fall. His characters usually have a foot on two rungs. They're going up or down. What drives Dubus's storytelling is the urge to find out which way they'll turn. "Townie" is a beautiful piece of work, both shocking and understated. The facts on the ground, the details of Dubus's childhood, are so rich that he hardly needs to comment on them. But "Gone So Long" doesn't quite allow for such reticence. It's bookended by two climactic, almost impossible-to-imagine events (the murder and the meeting), but the links that connect them are much more ordinary: a road trip, arguments between Susan and her grandmother. The big stuff and the small stuff have to stand somehow in relation to each other; Dubus must navigate between melodrama and sentimentality. Part of his point, though, is that underneath the sentimentality, fueling it, are darker feelings and desires. '"That's why we make love, baby, that's why you read all those stories and try to get your students to read them too, that oneness. It doesn't matter to me whether you think you love me or not. I know you love what we have here. And I know you feel that, too. Don't you?' His finger grazed her jaw." This speech comes not from Susan's father but from her husband, one of the good guys. Will a reunion force her to confront 'the soft black guts of her shame'? benjamin markovits'S new novel, "A Weekend in New York," will be published in February.

Library Journal Review

Perhaps best known for the novel House of Sand and Fog, a National Book Award finalist later adapted into a film of the same name, Dubus also authored the 2011 memoir Townie, which details his violent childhood and estrangement from his father. Echoing Townie, this new novel unfolds around Daniel Ahern, imprisoned for murdering his wife in a jealous rage, and his estranged daughter, Susan, who witnessed the crime at a young age. Upon his release from prison, Daniel reflects on how his violent tendencies reflect his own childhood and yearns to reconnect with his daughter. Meanwhile, Susan begins a novel to unpack years of trauma and finds her thoughts drifting toward her absentee father. When Daniel finally tracks her down, Susan is awash in feelings of pity and rage toward a father who abandoned her. Dubus masterfully employs minimal dialog between the two characters, underscoring how reunification often manifests as a temporary dissolution of thoughts and words. VERDICT A dark and exquisitely crafted novel that views parental relationships as both a form of inherited violence and redemptive empathy. [See Prepub Alert, 40/30/18.]-Joshua Finnell, Colgate Univ., Hamilton, NY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.