Andre Dubus makes a reader work to get to the heart of his story. He’s a quiet writer, and in his stories a reader may often feel a little off-kilter and unsure of why the story is being told. Like Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” the first half of Luke Ripley’s story is largely an explanation of his life circumstances. This sort of expository narration might fail to hold some readers. But stories are always about trouble, and Ripley’s found plenty of it, more than enough to test his faith in God and himself. His strategy is both an undoing and a revelation of strength. Dubus takes Ripley and the reader to the emotional edge, where the heart cries, Why? And waits, maybe forever, for an answer.