House Of Sand And Fog
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House Of Sand And Fog

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  72,916 ratings  ·  2,878 reviews
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

In this riveting novel of almost unbearable suspense, three fragile yet determined people become dangerously entangled in a relentlessly escalating crisis. Colonel Behrani, once a wealthy man in Iran, is now a struggling immigrant willing to bet everything he has to resotre his family's dignity. Kathy Nicolo is a troubled young woman whose house i...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 16th 2000 by Vintage Books (first published 1999)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4.75* of five

The Book Report: Behrani. An exiled colonel in the Shah's army. Kathy. A fucked-up druggie living off her inheritance. Lester. A major idiot whose law-enforcement career is his last best shot at staying off welfare.

Not one of these people will leave this book better than they entered it. Kathy's only home is the one she inherited, and the county says it's not hers anymore because she hasn't paid the taxes. She has, though. She's completely unable to function in the world bec...more
Marta
uuuugh i hated this book!!!!!! BUT before i start trashing it, i'll say that there is one thing i liked about it - the author's ability to give two completely different viewpoints and make the reader understand and empathize with them both. all i'll say about the plot is that it's about two people fighting for the ownership of a bungalow (that in itself should have stopped me from picking up this book - boringgggggg). i found myself rooting for each character at different times, for which i give...more
Shira Karp
Apr 20, 2007 Shira Karp rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like a lot of character development
I loved this book. It was amazing. I never thought I would get so wrapped up in a story where the main character was actually a house (or should I say a "bungalow" as that is how it is mostly referred to in the book). In the first few chapters it seemed obvious who the good guy and who the bad guy in the story were, but I quickly found that line blurred and throughout the whole book I didn't know who to root for, I wanted them both to win. The reason I only gave this book four stars instead of t...more
Jimmy
Andre Dubus III's second novel, House of Sand and Fog was adapted to film in 2003 by a Ukrainian-Americana director by the name of Vadim Perelman. Luckily, Perelman enlisted the help of Roger Deakins A.S.C., who's really just a wizard behind the camera. Also, Deakins is the man partially responsible for why most of the films by the Coen's look so inimical and striking in that trademark, neo-noir way that they do. He's also quite talented at dancing around landscapes and interiors with his camera...more
Joe
Jun 13, 2007 Joe rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
The reason I love this book is because it beautifully presents a problem from two sides, then let's the reader decide which side he or she supports. This isn't foxnews. The author transitions from chapter to chapter between the two main characters, using wonderful language for each, and then lets the reader decide. Neither of the characters were perfect, but neither could be classified as "bad guys". Andre Dubois III is my favorite modern author, his short stories are also amazing.
Shannon
Mar 20, 2008 Shannon rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my worst enemy
Recommended to Shannon by: Oprah - I should have known better
Shelves: the-big-stink
I have never had such a horribly visceral reaction to a novel. The story unfolded tragically but the writing unraveled something worse. The author only succeeded in presenting two sides of a story equally - I didn't care about either one, or the little abode (widows walk or not).

To torture myself further, I watched the movie. I am a fan of Ben Kingsley and couldn't possibly see how he would go blindly into such a disappointing set up. You know how the movie is never as good as the book - this is...more
Cathy DuPont
Jun 27, 2013 Cathy DuPont rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Cathy by: Vanessa, my bookseller
After finishing House of Sand and Fog, I read some reviews on Kindle. Most gave four or five stars but scattered among those were a few one and two stars with comments such as 'the sale of the house could have been prevented, the premise just wasn't plausible and landscape description was wrong.'

The House was the center, the subject and even in the title of the book. The two main characters, an Iranian military colonel under the Shah who brought his family to America after the fall of the Shah...more
Jillian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sammy
This book was really good. Lol. Yeah, I put that so eloquently and explained my reasoning really well, didn't I? But no, really, this book was really good. Let's clear my only problem with it out of the way before I start on the stuff I truly enjoyed about the novel...

Slow start. That's my only problem. It really took a while for things to kick up, but once they did it was a very exciting read. And even though I didn't like the slowness of the beginning part of the novel, I wouldn't have had it...more
Tracey
I'll spare reviewing the entire plot, since I see many posters have done a fine job already.

My thought through this book was that Kathy was responsible for most of the problems in this story. She was the one who ignored the tax notices (having answered them would have fixed the clerical error), she was the one who went to the Iranians home after being told not to by her lawyer, and she didn't stand up to her boyfriend when the situation went completely out of control.
Granted, her entire life wa...more
Matt
As a renter with cable television, I had a relatively safe perch from which to view the housing boom and bust in America. From the safety of my beloved armchair, covered in crumbs and clad in sweatpants, I could flip the channels and watch any number of reality shows about ordinary Americans flipping houses. The game was simple. You bought a cheap house, with the abundant available credit, fixed it up, and turned around and sold it. Do it right, and you could pocket a year's worth of salary in s...more
Malbadeen
Jan 07, 2009 Malbadeen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: "non-readers"
Recommended to Malbadeen by: every goodwill/salvation army/Value Village shelf in the pdx me
Okay, now that two people who's opinion I typically admire and generally like have told me how much they "loved" this book, I have to fess up...I didn't LOVE it. I thought it was good. I think Dubus is amazing at voice and plot is definitely exciting but about 1/2 way into, my brain started kerplunking over passages and I felt like I was watching a mini-series and I was just anxious for it to be over.

The first kerplunk was when Lester went to the woods to cut fire wood. Hellooooooooo! everyone...more
Rosie
This novel is a brilliant explication of what can happen when two desperate people's lives collide and become entwined. Dubus introduces us to two characters who couldn't be more at odds - Kathy Niccolo, a Saugus, MA native who has moved to California to escape shades of her drug-addled, under-achieving past, and Massoud Behrani, a hardworking, regimented ex-Colonel who fled Iran after a political uprising, who is struggling to maintain a semblance of dignity in a country that has little opportu...more
Teresa
There is nothing really wrong with this book. It's well-written, psychologically astute with distinct voices for the different narrators who are desperate, needy and proud. It is appropriately heart-wrenching at the most critical point in the story. Having said all that, maybe I should give it 5, or at least 4, stars, but I found that it isn't my kind of story in a way that I'm not sure I can explain. Perhaps it's because it's like watching a car wreck, or people on a so-called reality show. Whi...more
Mary Gibbons
The House of Sand and Fog was a book that I had high expectations for. The reviews for this book have been above average, and (which I didn't find out until after I read) it was chosen for Oprah's Book Club. While I typically act high brow towards anything that is touted by the O, she has chosen to like some classics that I have, 'On the Road' being one of them. Though I don't know how the typical Oprah watcher could really get in to this... that is not the point.

Anyways, back to Dubas' book. I...more
Book Concierge
It starts with a bureaucratic mistake. Massoud Behrani, formerly part of the Shah of Iran’s elite inner circle, is working two menial jobs in an effort to maintain a semblance of the wealth and status his family once enjoyed. His family is blissfully unaware of their circumstances, but he knows that he cannot maintain the charade for long and must find a way to achieve the American dream. He sees his opportunity in a newspaper advertisement for a sheriff’s auction – a nice bungalow near the ocea...more
Siria
This book could have been tighter towards the end; it gets a little bit predictable, and meanders to a close rather than ends. That aside, this is still an incredibly powerful piece of work. It's not a light book to get through; there are no heroes and there are very few innocents. Behrani, Kathy and Lester, three of the main characters of the novel, are all some of the most finely carved characters I've read in a long time. None of them are perfect; they are all fallible, none of them are even...more
Patricia Elizabeth
It took less than a chapter for me to realize this was not a book I wanted to finish. The entire time I was reading that chapter I felt as if I were watching a car wreck. It's not as if I demand a book be all happiness and sunshine but I didn't get the feeling that there was going to be anything redeeming about this book for me. As much as I appreciate that Oprah has been instrumental in getting people to read, it seems to me that so many of her books are absolute downers. I don't see how people...more
iam
Mar 08, 2009 iam marked it as the-freezer  ·  review of another edition
I read it up to page 94. Started getting a little worried that this would turn out to be one of those books I might not want to actually read. There aren't many of those. I can handle suspense, gore, & even on very very very rare occasions I can even read a book with Zombies in it. Sometimes though, being a Daddy's girl, I just can't handle seeing (or reading) a certain type of character deal with certain types of issues. Anyway, I decided to read the last two pages just in case this thing h...more
Joyce
Reading this book is like being frozen to the spot while you're watching a train wreck about to happen. It's an emotional wringer. Ultimately, I have to say it's 3.5 stars out of 5. (SPOILER ALERT) I did pop out of the narrative a few times, mostly due to goofy stuff (such as inaccuracies about the SF Bay Area; eg, having BART in Pacifica?!). But really, the basic premise of the novel isn't plausible. I couldn't see the county evicting somebody one day and then auctioning the place off the very...more
David
Too many paragraphs like "Around noon, I picked up my mail at the post office, then went to a shopping center sandwich shop to sift through it all while I ate. It was only ten days' worth but it took up all of my table, and I put it in two piles, one for the trash can on the way out, one to keep. The trash pile was mostly junk mail, the other was bills: car insurance, gas, my final phone, electric. The electric bill was the most recent and I opened it and read the cutoff date for the last billin...more
Matthew
Apr 16, 2010 Matthew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults only--if you like fluff/pulpy fiction, this is not for you
Absolutely brilliant. I read this book during a challenging period in my life. It was surprisingly helpful in that it showed me just how badly things can go sideways under the right (or wrong) circumstances. I realized in reading it that no matter how dark things may look at the moment, they can almost certainly get worse if you let them. Be happy with your own personal circumstances and challenges...

This is a very grim tale about the chance intersection of the lives of three strangers. Luck (g...more
Casilde
I am a little surprised reading all of the reviews by other people of this book. No one supports Kathy in this endeavor. Everyone has mainly sympathy for Behrani and his moral stance and I must admit, i find that a bit shocking. Let me get this straight, I don't particularly like Kathy, or Behrani, or Les for that matter and I do understand each of their viewpoints. However, I'm shocked that people would consider a bureaucratic error fair reason for losing your home. People keep referring to her...more
Natalie
This is a phenomenal, insightful, sad book. The author tells a compelling story about cultural differences and how our assumptions about others are so often wrong. When I saw the movie version of this book years ago, it blew me away, and I am still haunted by both the story and the images of the film.

However, having seen the movie first actually affected my ability to immerse myself in the book. It took me a very long time to read this. Sometimes knowing the ending doesn't matter, but for some r...more
Leah
This starts off as a simple enough story about an Iranian immgrant struggling to make good in American, but Behrani's world quickly becomes complicated when he purchases a home at a county tax auction. Interestingly told from three perspectives: Behrani's, Kathy's (the original homeowner) and a random narrator who gives us the whereabouts of Kathy's cop boyfriend Les, House of Sand and Fog is quick moving (as the book jacket suggests), but I often felt while reading that the movie would be a be...more
Sharon
This story posed an interesting dilemma. Due to a mistake in the county tax office, a woman is evicted from her home and it is sold at auction for a third of it's value. What would you do if you were the purchaser? Would you simply sell it back to the county for the same amount? That is the remedy the county proposed. But Colonel Behrani, the man who purchased the home, is fighting for his family's survival. A recent immigrant from Iran, he has been unable to find a decent job and they have grad...more
Celeste Miller
This is definitely a page turner or, as one of the reviews said, "unputdownable." What makes the conflict between the Kathy, a down-on-her-luck former coke addict scraping by as a house cleaner and Colonel Behrani, a formerly wealthy official in the Shah of Iran's administration is that, bigoted as both may be, they are also both sympathetic characters. Both have formerly been many things and are still reeling from their pasts while trying to carve out a future.

As I began part two, I felt the wi...more
Linda
Ugh. This book drove me batty. I have a like-hate relationshop with this book. I was so annoyed while reading it because of the characters. I understand that some books have characters that you do not like or cannot relate to, but there was just something about them that made me uninterested in them. Yet, the book stayed with me when I finished it. Then it intrigued me enough to make me rent the movie verson. I have to think about how many stars to give it. I'm so conflicted. It is a short read,...more
Leanna Henderson
What was the point? That's how I felt at the end. Only reason I gave it two stars and not one is that it did hold my interest, surprisingly.

I agree with one poster who said Kathy Nicolo was very annoying, weak and pathetic. First of all, you're a dumbass for not opening your tax notices. Secondly, you've got the opportunity here to sue the pants off the county. Why the heck would you tell your lawyer to forget about it???? Third, your boyfriend shows up at the house wielding a gun...why don't y...more
Beth F.
I've been in a dark mood lately, and this depressing book was a good fit for my current state of mind.

My husband and I have vastly different tastes in movies. He typically prefers slapstick and standup comedies while my preferences gravitate to the offbeat and twisty, even when I'm not angry and emotional all the time. We take turns choosing what to watch and mainly it works, because sometimes I find humor amusing and occasionally he embraces his twisty side (he married me, after all). He's not...more
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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...more
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“it's almost easier being down and alone than when you re up and no one s there to share the view with you” 22 likes
“The truth is life is full of joy and full of great sorrow, but you can't have one without the other.” 15 likes
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