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Edenfield traces how Dubus’s experiences serve as a backdrop for the major themes that run through his work: faith, family, and infidelity. His marriages, the complex relationships with his children, and his difficult recovery from a car accident exert a powerful influence on his work. Dubus also takes up the complicated themes of love and marriage, fatherhood and faith, and despair and spiritual healing; his subjects and style were influenced significantly by Ernest Hemingway.
After Dubus’s novel Broken Vessels was named a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in 1991, he returned to writing shortstories, the genre for which he is still renowned. He focused on a character much like himself who had to learn to navigate the world while afflicted with physical and spiritual disability. In 1996 he published his critically acclaimed short story cycle Dancing after Hours, an appropriate ending to a career that celebrated the healing power of the human heart.