The Garden of Last Days

The Garden of Last Days

3.2 40
by Andre Dubus III, Dan John Miller
     
 

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April’s usual babysitter, Jean, has had a panic attack that has landed her in the hospital. April doesn’t really know anyone else, so she decides it’s best to have her three-year-old daughter close by, watching children’s videos in the office while she works.

April works at the Puma Club for Men. And tonight she has an unusual client, a

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Overview

April’s usual babysitter, Jean, has had a panic attack that has landed her in the hospital. April doesn’t really know anyone else, so she decides it’s best to have her three-year-old daughter close by, watching children’s videos in the office while she works.

April works at the Puma Club for Men. And tonight she has an unusual client, a foreigner both remote and too personal, and free with his money. Lots of it, all cash. His name is Bassam. Meanwhile, another man, AJ, has been thrown out of the club for holding hands with his favorite stripper, and he’s drunk and angry and lonely.

From these explosive elements comes a relentless, raw, searing, passionate, page-turning narrative, a big-hearted and painful novel about sex and parenthood and honor and masculinity. Set in the seamy underside of American life at the moment before the world changed, it juxtaposes lust for domination with hunger for connection, sexual violence with family love. It seizes the listener by the throat with the same psychological tension, depth, and realism that characterized Andre Dubus’s bestselling House of Sand and Fog – and an even greater sense of the dark and anguished places in the human heart.

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Editorial Reviews

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)

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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
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.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781423366577
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
06/02/2008
Edition description:
Unabridged, 14 CDs, 16 hours
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Andre Dubus III is the author of House of Sand and Fog (an Oprah’s Book Club selection and finalist for the National Book Award), Bluesman, and The Cage Keeper and Other Stories. He lives with his family north of Boston.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Newbury, MA
Date of Birth:
1959
Place of Birth:
California
Education:
University of Texas at Austin

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The Garden of Last Days 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Vita_Brevis More than 1 year ago
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.
Eudy_Knight More than 1 year ago
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 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago