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Tuesday, March 1

Writers in the Loft Launches with Andre Dubus III

New Series! Writers in the Loft welcomes National Book Award finalist, author of The House of Sand and Fog Andre Dubus III and his new book Townie Wednesday, April 13, 7pm at The Music Hall Loft. Writers in the Loft series introduces new format: Book, bar beverage, and author meet-and-greet included ticket price.

Tickets on sale to Music Hall members noon, Saturday, March 5
On sale to the general public noon, Saturday, March 12

“Townie is a better, harder book than anything the younger Mr. Dubus has yet written; it pays off on every bet that’s been placed on him. It’s a sleek muscle car of a memoir that…growls like an amalgam of the best work by Richard Price, Stephen King, Ron Kovic, Breece D’J Pancake and Dennis Lehane, set to the desolate thumping of Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” – New York Times

The Music Hall and RiverRun Bookstore announce the first event in their new Writers in the Loft series. National Book Award finalist author Andre Dubus III, the author of the novels House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days, will present his new work of nonfiction Townie on April 13th at 7pm.

Both reading and book signing receptions will take place at the newly opened Music Hall Loft at 131 Congress Street in downtown Portsmouth.

Writers in the Loft is akin to The Music Hall’s anchor author series, Writers on a New England Stage, featuring well-known authors but in a smaller, more intimate space.  It is produced as a partnership between The Music Hall and RiverRun Bookstore with Presenting Sponsor Citizens Bank. The series will bring audiences today’s top authors, the best of fiction and nonfiction. Tickets for Writers in the Loft: Andre Dubus III go on sale to members Saturday, March 5 at noon. Sales to public begin Saturday March 12.

Said Patricia Lynch, Executive Producer of Writers in the Loft, “The spirit will be unique and casual…With just 120 in the room, audience members will feel they are at a happening, a cross between a seminar and a social event.” Tom Holbrook, owner of RiverRun Bookstore, said of Dubus, ““Last time he came to town, we had standing room only at the bookstore and he wowed every person there. We can’t wait to have him back!”

About the book, Townie

In Townie Andre Dubus III tells the story of growing up on the wrong side of town, in a neighborhood and in schools saturated with drugs and violence, where he built himself up from a scared, skinny kid to a guy who could—and did—send other men to the hospital with one punch to the face. Watching his siblings suffer, in different ways, from the trouble that surrounded them, he began pumping iron to make himself the kind of man who could protect them, and himself.
Meanwhile, his father – the acclaimed short fiction writer Andre Dubus – lived and taught creative writing on a nearby college campus and, in a typical 1970s post-divorce custody arrangement, took the kids out on Sundays. His father’s world and his own were so incongruous that his father’s students gossiped that Professor Dubus’s son was “such a townie!” Yet young Andre couldn’t deny the affirmation he felt when his father was riveted by stories of his brawls and seemed proud of his son’s toughness, fascinated by the everyday violence his son took for granted.

While he was able to steer clear of the drugs so easily available in rough neighborhoods called “the avenues,” young Andre nonetheless developed a dangerous habit of intervening to save the underdog. Knocking out a guy who was bullying his smaller friend in a parking lot, breaking the teeth of a troublemaker who had just kicked a woman in an airport – using his fists to “break through the membrane” separating one individual from another threatened to become a deadly end in itself.

To raise money for college – an ambition that please his dad but that mystified his friends at home – young Andre worked as a night manager at a fast food restaurant. He made his way to the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied Marxist social theory, and later was a bounty hunter and halfway house counselor. But even as he sought non-violent ways to champion the underdog, he was still on a short fuse. Any abuse, verbal or otherwise, could trigger him into a brawl.

But one day, when Andre was training for the Golden Gloves, he didn’t show up for his sparring session. Instead, he’d begun to write. Finally, this new way of “breaking through the membrane” separating each of us from others gave him another way of dealing with confrontation – an uncanny sense of empathy that empowered him to inhabit his characters with the extraordinary depth familiar to fans of his fiction – and also to defuse an angry, violent man itching for a fight.

Meanwhile, the accident that left his father permanently confined to a wheelchair had an equally amazing effect on a family still haunted by heartache and childhood deprivation. The empathy both Andres, father and son, expressed in their fiction also shaped them later in their lives, in a kind of miracle that enabled the members of this family to rally around one another, at the same time that it brought the two of them closer together. The extraordinarily beautiful, moving, and redemptive final chapters of Townie capture that relationship, culminating with the death and of Andre Dubus the elder, his funeral attended by 800 admirers, and his burial in the coffin his sons made and the grave they dug for him.

There are many, many writers’ memoirs – but only a few that exhibit the same precious and hard-won self knowledge, or that reach readers on so many levels, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Townie is a rare and powerful work that will resonate for years to come.

About the author, Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus III is a National Book Award finalist and the author of the novels House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days, a New York Times bestseller. His writing has received many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Magazine Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He lives with his family north of Boston.

About the The Music Hall Loft: Center for Performing Arts, Literature and Education

The Music Hall’s new Loft space at 131 Congress Street is now under construction and will open in April 2011 as The Music Hall Loft: The Center for Performing Arts, Literature and Education. A critical extension of The Music Hall’s mission “to be an active and vital arts center for the enrichment of the Seacoast community,” the Loft significantly increases capacity for The Music Hall’s existing educational and community programs, and allows for creative new educational and programming initiatives. Whether in a classroom configuration, master class in a theater-style set up, small workshop in a conference room, or cabaret or theater arrangement,  the Loft will engage children, teens, and adults.

Ticket Purchase – Writers in the Loft

Tickets to Writers in the Loft; Andre Dubus III on Wedsnesday, April 13 at 7pm, are $37 for members of The Music Hall ($40 for general public). Included in the package are a reserved seat, a copy of Townie (hardcover $25.95), bar beverage; and author presentation, Q+A, and book signing meet-and-greet. Tickets are available through The Music Hall Box Office, located at 28 Chestnut Street, Portsmouth, over the phone at 603-436-2400 or online at tickets.themusichall.org. Packages, as available, can also be purchased on the night at The Music Hall Loft Box office at the Loft at 131 Congress Street, beginning at 6:30pm for the 7pm event. The authors will autograph books on the night, following their reading and discussion. 

Presenting Sponsor of Writers in The Loft:

Citizens Bank

About RiverRun Bookstore

RiverRun Bookstore is Portsmouth’s favorite independent bookstore. Located on 20 Congress Street in downtown Portsmouth, they host close to 200 author events a year. For more information on RiverRun, call 603-431-2100 or visit www.riverrunbookstore.com

About The Music Hall: An American Treasure for the Arts

The Music Hall is a nonprofit performing arts center that entertains 100,000 patrons, including 20,000 school children, annually with acclaimed film, music, theater, and dance performances. Its historic 900-seat theater, built in 1878, is the oldest in New Hampshire and designated an “American Treasure” by the U.S. Senate in the Save America’s Treasures Program administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service. Living out its mission to be an active and vital arts center for the enrichment of the Seacoast community, The Music Hall presents diverse and relevant programming, including its signature series and innovative community outreach programs, and hosts numerous community fundraisers and celebrations for the benefit of more than 40 local nonprofits.  A cultural anchor in a thriving Seacoast economy, The Music Hall and its patrons contribute $5.5 million annually to the local economy through show and visitor related spending. The Music Hall is a 501c3 tax exempt, fiscally responsible nonprofit organization, managed by a professional staff with the assistance of a dedicated volunteer Board of Trustees. The historic hall is located in Portsmouth, the seaport city recently named a “Distinctive Destination” for 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation and one of the “20 Best Towns in America” by Outside magazine (July 2008). For more information about The Music Hall and its schedule of events, visit www.themusichall.org/about_us.

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