While the title novella of Dubus' Finding a Girl in America returns to the somewhat off-the-rails literary life of Hank Allison, the collection's opening story strikes a much darker tone: 'Killings'-the basis of the Academy Award-nominated film In the Bedroom-is a swift tale of revenge that leaves readers wondering what they might do in the name of family love. Dubus' prowess with narrative compression is on full display in the story 'Waiting': the hollow ache experienced by a woman widowed by the Korean War took Dubus fourteen months to write and was more than one hundred pages in early manuscript form but spans a mere seven pages in published form. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Joyce Carol Oates called 'The Pretty Girl'-the opening novella of The Times Are Never So Bad-'the most compelling and suspenseful work of fiction [Dubus] has written.' Richard Russo's introduction to this volume grapples with his complex feelings on reading Dubus' work over many decades, but when it comes to the much-anthologized masterpiece 'A Father's Story,' Russo writes: 'I won't mince words. It's one of the finest stories ever penned by an American.'
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