Andre Dubus is my favorite American short story writer. In fact, he is one of my few favorite American writers period. He has the realism of Cheever and Carver, but more warmth than Carver and Hemingway. His prose is understated and never unnecessary; he is one of the few writers I have read where every word in every sentence, and every sentence is not only necessary, but meaningful as well (Tom Robbins and Virginia Woolf are others). He is worth reading for his prose alone. Many, if not most, of his stories take place in the New England area, and as such allow for an interesting portrait of that area. I used to want to live in Maine, before I wanted to live in Savannah, GA, so I have some interest in the area itself. Dubus was apparently born in Louisiana, but spent his later years in Haverhill, Massachusettes. The characters are humanely and fully realized, as if they could be someone you pass on the street. The stories seem like briefly opened windows into the characters' lives. As I said above, Dubus has the realism of Carver and Hemingway, but his prose and his treatment of his characters is much warmer than Hemingway's sparse dialogue or Carver's post-modern coldness. The characters do struggle with how to connect to one another, but it doesn't feel cold, cut off or lifeless; it doesn't feel bleak (even though some of the subject matter certainly is). I don't need warm fuzzies to make me a happy reader, and Dubus offers few of these, but I do need a certain level of humanity to be present in what I read. And it's this, the variety of humanity, that Dubus offers us.