As part of our Best Books of 2011 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list.
I don’t read a lot of nonfiction (for no other reason than I devour novels like candy, and there are only so many books a girl can read in a year). That said, Townie, Andre Dubus III’s memoir about a hard life in a poor Massachusetts mill town is one of my favorite books I’ve read in 2011—full stop, novels included.
There are a lot of interesting contrasts in the story: Gorgeous writing combined with a bleak setting. The man who becomes an iron-pumping boxer (and vicious brawler) must be reconciled with the man who writes House of Sand and Fog.
Most of all, I liked Townie because of the extreme emotions therein—rage and disappointment, embarrassment, loneliness, misery, love, joy. It’s a tough book that may have you doing a few fist pumps during scenes of redemption. I really loved it. (And I agree with New York Times reviewer Dwight Garner, who wrote, “It could become, and I mean this fondly, one hell of a Ben Affleck movie.”)