The Garden of Last Days

( 40 )

Overview

?So good, so damn compulsively readable, that I can hardly believe it.? ?Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
In his stunning follow-up to the #1 best-selling House of Sand and Fog, Andre Dubus draws us into the lives of three deeply flawed, driven people whose paths intersect on a September night in Florida. April, a stripper, has brought her daughter to work at the Puma Club for Men. There she encounters Bassam, a foreign client both remote and too personal, and free with his money. Meanwhile, another man, AJ, ...

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The Garden of Last Days: A Novel

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Overview

“So good, so damn compulsively readable, that I can hardly believe it.” —Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
In his stunning follow-up to the #1 best-selling House of Sand and Fog, Andre Dubus draws us into the lives of three deeply flawed, driven people whose paths intersect on a September night in Florida. April, a stripper, has brought her daughter to work at the Puma Club for Men. There she encounters Bassam, a foreign client both remote and too personal, and free with his money. Meanwhile, another man, AJ, has been thrown out of the club, and he’s drunk and angry and lonely. From these explosive elements comes a relentless, raw, and page-turning narrative that seizes the reader by the throat with psychological tension, depth, and realism.

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Editorial Reviews

Esquire
“Muscular and disquieting and turn-the-pages-so-fast-you-tear-them good.”
Boston Sunday Globe
“Storytelling of the finest kind . . . [an] incandescent and absorbing novel.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
A very fast and entertaining read. . . . Every passage is expertly, elegantly achieved.— Madison Smart Bell
Philadelphia Inquirer - Madison Smart Bell
“A very fast and entertaining read. . . . Every passage is expertly, elegantly achieved.”
Madison Smart Bell - Philadelphia Inquirer
“A very fast and entertaining read. . . . Every passage is expertly, elegantly achieved.”
Esquire
“Muscular and disquieting and turn-the-pages-so-fast-you-tear-them good.”
Publishers Weekly

This fascinating novel is a powerful look at connection and love played out inside of a strip club in Florida. The central character is April, a stripper forced to bring her child to work because her babysitter has a panic attack. A male narrator seems a poor choice, as a strong female performance would have captured the essence of the story far better. Dan John Miller reads clearly and with good pacing, but his deep monotone lacks emotion. While the writing is certainly first rate and the characters completely realistic, Miller fails to capture the listener's attention. A W.W. Norton hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 17). (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
An explosive narrative employs a Florida strip club as a tinderbox of tensions on the weekend before 9/11. In similar fashion to his previous bestseller (House of Sand and Fog, 1999), Dubus shows a profound empathy as he gets inside the heads of a number of characters, with coincidence, chance and a clash of cultures building to a shattering climax. Through quick-cutting chapters (few longer than ten pages, many as short as one or two), he propels the action while providing the back stories that have brought these characters together for a night that will change their lives. April is an uncommonly sober-minded stripper and single mother who saves all her earnings to secure a better future for herself and her three-year-old daughter Franny. Jean is April's landlady and Franny's babysitter, a widow who shares her house more for the company than the extra income. She is also prone to panic attacks and may be a hypochondriac, an alcoholic or both. On the night in question, Jean is hospitalized and can't watch Franny. April reluctantly takes Franny to work, leaving her in a closed office while she goes to dance for customers. One of the clients is Bassam, a Muslim who pays extravagantly. Bassam berates April as immoral even as he lusts after her, and he keeps her from checking on her daughter. (Later his subplot has the most trouble meshing with the others.) Another customer is AJ, separated from the wife he has beaten and the son he loves, and now bounced from the club for getting too physical with one of the dancers. As their fates become inexorably intertwined, Dubus does a masterful job of allowing the reader to understand, if not forgive, why each character does what he or she does. Inthe process, he explores intricacies of faith and fate, love in its many dimensions (from maternal to sexual), the transactions through which men and women exert power over each other and the culture that shapes the characters and destinies of these individuals. Difficult to put down, impossible to forget. Agent: Philip Spitzer/Philip Spitzer Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393335309
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 493,559
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus III is the author of The Garden of Last Days, House of Sand and Fog (a #1 New York Times bestseller, Oprah’s Book Club pick, and finalist for the National Book Award) and Townie, winner of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His writing has received many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Magazine Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. He lives with his family north of Boston.

Biography

Although writing runs in the family (his father is the late, award-winning short story writer Andres Dubus, and his cousin is bestselling mystery author James Lee Burke), Andre Dubus III never intended to pursue the literary life.

Raised by his divorced, cash-strapped mother in a series of drab, blue-collar towns in Massachusetts, Dubus attended 14 different schools before he was 18. As perpetual "new kids on the block," he and his siblings were bullied unmercifully; Dubus grew up fiercely protective of his brother and sisters and furious at the world for its injustices. After high school, he enrolled in Bradford College in Haverhill, MA, where his famous father taught creative writing -- and where it was generally assumed he would follow suit.

But, writing was the last thing Dubus wanted to do. He transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, studied sociology and political science, and graduated as a dedicated Marxist with a burning desire to right the world's wrongs. He took a year off from his studies and returned to Massachusetts, where he worked construction and channeled his pugilism into training for the Golden Gloves. He also began dating a student from his father's fiction class. One day, she showed him a manuscript written by one of her more talented classmates. Dubus was blown away by its beauty and spent the rest of the summer working on a short story he describes as "not very good." Nonetheless, he was well and truly hooked. Despite his best efforts to avoid genetic destiny, Dubus ended up going into the family business.

Over the next few years, Dubus supported himself as a carpenter, actor, bartender, boxer, private investigator, and bounty hunter -- deliberately choosing jobs that would free up his mornings for writing. His first book, The Cage Keeper and Other Stories appeared in 1980, followed by the novel Bluesman in 1993. He devoted more than four years to House of Sand and Fog, the heartbreaking story of two fragile people enmeshed in an ownership dispute over a small house in the California hills. Considered by many to be his finest work, the book was nominated for a 1999 National Book Award and became an Oprah Book Club pick.

Nine years later, Dubus returned with The Garden of Last Days, a mesmerizing novel that imagines the lives of the 9/11 hijackers who embedded themselves into the fabric of American society while secretly plotting its destruction. Dubus has said that the novel began with the recurring vision of a single haunting image -- a wad of cash atop a bedroom dresser. Slowly, he came to see that the cash belonged to a stripper who worked in a seedy Florida club visited by the terrorist who would pilot the plane into the World Trade Center. In its review, Esquire called the novel "riveting and disturbing, as beautiful as it is bleak," and critics heralded it as a searing return to form for the bestselling author.

Good To Know

House of Sand and Fog was adapted for a 2003 Academy Award-nominated motion picture starring Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley.
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    1. Hometown:
      Newbury, MA
    1. Date of Birth:
      1959
    2. Place of Birth:
      California
    1. Education:
      University of Texas at Austin

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(4)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2008

    A reviewer

    What a disappointment. I purchased this book after reading Stephen King's glowing review in Entertainment Weekly. Unfortunately, I was not as enamored with the book. This was only the second time, in all the books I've read, that I've almost not finished a novel I've started to read. I forced myself to continue reading, thinking it would get better. It did not.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2009

    Explosive

    The characters are real, like people you met off of the street. Dubus deals with the hidden struggles of people who are just trying to make it. The plot can be difficult to deal with because of its subject matter. Overall, very good and challenges the way we look at people.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    This was a great read. A different prespective on a topic most of us don't spend time thinking about.

    Well developed characters and plot. Dubus keeps the story line moving along with the development of less than desireable mainstream characthers. The only disapointment for me was the fact that he seemed to hurry the ending in an effort to end the book. But the preceeding movement and development of the story allows me to strongly recommend the novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2009

    disappointing

    From the writer of The House of Sand and Fog, this was doubly disappointing. Repetitive, predictable, boring. Perhaps this is the first draft of a screen treatment??

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2009

    What was I thinking?

    One of the main characters was probably asking himself this after his stupid exploits and you may be also after you finish the book.

    A deep exploration into some of the seedier sides of American life with a unlikely tie to 9-11.

    Why is it that beautiful, smart, single mothers end up in strip clubs with their children in tow? Everyone needs to make a living, some just convince themselves on the best methods. While I'm sure this scenario happens more than any of us cares to admit, I'm not sure I'd recommend spending a lot of time reading about it.

    The descriptive scenes involving our beautiful, smart, single mother and a 9-11 terrorist are disturbing even if they were believable. Unfortunately, the back and forth from his middle Eastern thoughts to his American strip club behavior was not explanatory or satisfying. If all the 9-11 terrorists had spent their months in the US frequenting strip clubs versus flight training would our world be different today? Who knows; stupid question.

    And our poor hero (he had enough fatal flaws to earn the title!) is an unlikely, bumbling buffoon that even the dimmest of the wittest would find hard to identify or empathize with.

    As one might guess, everyone gets what they deserve in this book; not necessarily what you, the reader, might want for them.

    Time and money better spent elsewhere.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2009

    Not bad, but not good

    Had I read the entire back of this book, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. Somehow I missed the first line on the back cover that stated this book was about life before 9/11. The paragraphs following that line were somewhat obtuse, leaving me to wonder what the point of the story was, so I grabbed it. I got about halfway through before realizing what the book was leading up to and then turned it over to find I should have known all along. While the end of the book did include the 9/11 tragedy, I didn't find it to be the center of the story, luckily. The story about the lives of the characters was entertaining, but the book did not have a solid overall point to me. It wasn't a bad read, but I probably won't be recommending it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2009

    Interesting subject and historical twist thru fiction.

    Characters intertwine thru out the book. The resolve all of the plot lines by the end of the text. Interesting play on the authors knowledge of the Middle East, Terrorism, and religious aspects on a personal level, ie the jihadist. Text formatted for easy stop and start. Good book not quite as good as the Kiterunner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Disappointing

    I was very disappointed by this novel; I think Andre Dubus III is an amazing writer (House of Sand and Fog is one of my favorite novels) but this was sub-par follow up. I was surprised because I found his characters in House of Sand and Fog so captivating, yet in Garden of Last Days I couldn't empathize in the same way. It was hard to really get invested in their problems. Part of this was because none of the characters seemed original; many of them fit the exact stereotype you'd imagine, and any attempts to provide deeper insight felt like it'd been done already in 100 different books or movies. There are some parts of the novel where his writing shines through, but it just serves as a reminder of how much greater his talent and potential are than his latest novel.

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  • Posted December 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Fitting that I finished this book on 9/11('08)

    I read an article about Mr. Dubus & this book, in a popular entertainment magazine. While lightly treading along in a sea of endless reading possibilities, I¿m always looking for something to jump out at me- this particular article had me at ¿strip club¿ & ¿terrorist¿. Garden of Last Days follows the intertwining lives of a bright, single mother/stripper, her young daughter, her widowed, anxiety stricken landlord, a terrorist, a strip club bouncer & an anguished club patron. This is a challenging read & one that I was uncertain was worth it, upon completion, due to the somewhat abrupt ending- after marinating in random thoughts about the characters & what I interpreted the moral of the story to be, I decided that I would recommend this book to anyone who is up for taking on challenges. It¿s not hard to feel personally invested in the outlook of all of the characters, as the chapters rotate thru their lives from their points of view- I was somehow able to empathize with all of their hypocrisies, temptations, ¿sins¿, righteousness¿s, & desires for love & significance. Some fates were inevitable but, after almost exactly 2 months of marinating, I find myself wondering how all of them are doing¿

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2008

    What a dud of an ending

    I was so disappointed in this book. After 500+ pages of character and suspense building, nothing happens! I was hopeful the first 250 or so pages that this book was going to be great, but after more and more of nothing happening, sheer disappointment. House of Sand and Fog was a masterful novel with characters as dense as the fog. Suspense built and built until it reached a boiling point. The Garden of Last Days never made it past a simmer.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I feel ripped off. . .

    My first thought after finishing this book was 'wow, that was a complete waste of time.' The Garden of Last Days is tedious and slow moving. The plot of the book lacked in so many different ways. There were different parts in this book, in particular the character Bassam, that I really had no idea what was going on. This book was not written well and it was a chore to finish. The Garden of Last Days is a major disappointment and I would not recommend it to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2008

    A Great American Story

    This is an engrossing and simply told story about what motivates these characters beliefs and actions. It flows with a quiet tension reminiscent of a good mystery. I loved this book as much as I have enjoyed this author's other books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2008

    Best book I've read this year

    Wow. First off, let me say that this was not an easy read. None of the characters were perfect, or in some cases, even likeable. Their motivations were universally self-serving, or desperate, or both. But they're real. They come alive and the situations that follow are so tightly interwoven as to be unseperable. I could not put this book down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2008

    As an avid reader

    I buy lots of books, but Mr. Dubus is new to me. I intend to buy everthing he has written or will ever write after reading this one. It is awe-inspiring. He commits to paper the atmosphere of south Florida, the humidity, the beauty and the darkness within some people.The characters are so well developed and the discription of the rape of Virginia is so searing it has lingered with me . I could not put this book down. Formula writers are so trite, and I am tired of them. I'm off to B&N to buy everything you have by Andre Dubus III. If you read only one book this year, make it this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2008

    A reviewer

    I first heard about this book from Stephen King in EW magazine, usually I read the titles he recommends. I was very disappointed with this book. For me it was not suspenseful at all. Also as a new yorker who remembers sept.11 very well, I didn't see the point of featuring the guy named Bassam. The only character I had any feeling towards was the little girl franny.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    I was so psyched to read this after loving House of Sand & Fog...but this was dreadful. Boring, slow, minimal plot...what a disappointment!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2008

    not what i expected:(

    i was not sure how to rate this book. at first i liked the book and was interested then mid-way through i thought about giving up on it but i am not one to quit reading a book so i continued. towards the end i started to get a little bit more interested but not a lot. there was one character in the book that i could not follow at all so the chapters that were about him i mainly skimmed through.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2008

    A reviewer

    After reading HOSAF years ago I couldn't wait for the next book by the talented writer Andre Dubus III. I picked up The Garden of Last Days and enjoyed reading the first third of the book. However, I never felt compassion or a connection to any of the characters. Reading the passages about Bassam became tedious, and I grew to have little sympathy for the female character April. Determined to finish the 500+ pages hoping it would redeem itself I found the ending very disappointing.

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  • Posted January 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Gardener Writes

    This book can either be rated a five or a one, I see nothing in between. Bubuss writes exquisitely, often arrogantly aware that he is the one taking the reader through this field he calls a garden. We see little hibiscus and bougainvillea and frangipani. More often we seem to be among slopped manure full of the stench of sweat and piss and dried semen of lowlifes. This is the story he writes, and writes so well, giving us the sounds and smells that we wouldn't otherwise want did he not have us lured into a world where the seamy can seem so profound. Charles Bock gave us similar characters and feelings in his novel Beautiful Children, yet Bock was able to make us like his creatures. Dubus doesn't expect us to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews

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