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The Garden of Last Days

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  4,032 Ratings  ·  756 Reviews

From the author of the New York Times bestseller and Oprah's Book Club selection House of Sand and Fog--a new big-hearted, painful, page-turning novel.

One early September night in Florida, a stripper brings her daughter to work. April's usual babysitter is in the hospital, so she decides it's best to have her three-year-old daughter close by, watching children's videos i
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537 pages
Published August 28th 2008 by William Heinneman (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Matt
The Garden of Last Days is a fascinating novel. In constructing it, Andre Dubus III plays the role of Dr. Frankenstein, jamming together two completely different books to form one larger book. Well, maybe “jamming” is too strong a word. He stitches them together as artfully as he can, doing his best to hide the seams. That does not change the reality that he has attempted to graft an arm onto a forehead.

The bulk of The Garden of Last Days, the “A” story, if you will, is reminiscent of Dubus’ de
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Melissa Madrid
Jun 12, 2008 Melissa Madrid rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like a good tale and don't care how well it is told
Recommended to Melissa by: Powells
This book fits squarely into my category of a good idea poorly executed. The promise of the book lies in its gritty characters and the outward ripple into their lives from a point of chance intersection. And of course I was drawn by the clever concept of the chance intersection being taken from a footnote to the headlines of the biggest story of the young 21st Century.

But the execution is a big pile overwrought melodrama. My problem is that the prose is pedestrian and the story is drawn with a
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Antigone
Jul 06, 2016 Antigone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
There were stories floating around at the time. That between the rental cars and the string of apartments, the visas, the wired funding, the flight lessons and the trial runs, the 9/11 hijackers had spent some nights in bars and strip clubs. And the mind sort of stops here to scratch its head. Mosques, yes. Prayer five times a day, yes. Hours in Internet cafes. Pouring over maps, purchasing tickets, boxcutters. Final manifestos scrawled right to left; pages and pages of religious paraphrasing. D ...more
Maureen
Aug 10, 2009 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gripping me from the first page.
Dubus knows charcters so well,it is as if he grinds the human being down to the original dust and then scattters that dust across the page.
The back jacket blurb for this novel does not do it justice. This not a book about "where were you September 10,2001?". This is a book about the choices we make everyday that keep us and everyone around us holding on to what is our reality,sometimes with the edges of our fingernails.
Does this book have a deeper human lesson to
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JoAnn/QuAppelle
Jun 22, 2008 JoAnn/QuAppelle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am so annoyed with myself for wasting the hours I spent to read this. I had to force myself to pick it up every day. I loved Dubus's first book so much that I kept hoping this would get better and some characters would appear who would be even the slightest bit appealing or meaningful. Never happened. And yes, I know life has a seamy side, but that does not make this novel any more appealing. It made me feel dirty.

But the reviewers loooooove it.

Amazon says that this book is 384 pages but my
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Ray
Aug 05, 2008 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buy
Well, I read all the other GoodReads reviews and don't have much to add. There are lots of sharp insights below.

In short, yes this was a book told from probably too many perspectives (I counted at least 9 distinct points of view), there was a bit of over-writing, and there is powerlessness/over-sexualization attached to some of the female characters. And the September 11th terrorist sub-plot borders on the ridiculous...but...I liked it.

I like a chunky book. I like a book with a strong sense of
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Sarah
May 29, 2010 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Garden of Last Days is a perfect literary example of masterful storytelling. It doesn't matter that the book is lengthier than average at over 530 pages because you won't notice it or feel overwhelmed; you'll simply enjoy the reading experience.

Andre Dubus III opens The Garden of Last Days on a lazy Florida afternoon and we are introduced to April and Franny; a single young woman who works for a strip club and her three-year old daughter. April's usual babysitter, Jean, is in the hospital, a
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christa
After awhile, I became convinced that Andre Dubus III was doing this on purpose: Oprah-endorsed writer pens insanely long and boring novel filled with the minutia of 5-7 strangers whose path's intersect one dramatic night at a titty bar in Florida.

This novel, "The Garden of Last Days," is senselessly slow and senselessly long. A wise man once said that no song should be longer than 4 minutes, unless there is a really good reason. I believe that a book should be no longer than 300 pages, unless
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Qmiller
I taught this book in my course on 9/11 literature, though it has less (directly) to do with that infamous day than the other books in the course did. Yet 9/11 weighs heavily on the narrative. It takes place largely in and around a seedy Florida strip club (I realize there is at least one redundancy in that phrase). It's really a series of character studies. I've read everything by Andre and consider him a friend: he made a second visit to campus this semester at my request and visited two of my ...more
Diane
Jul 03, 2011 Diane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't know if I can finish this unrelentingly depressing book. Is it just me?
UPDATE: I have concluded that I will never finish this book and am removing it from my "currently reading list." Having read about 2/3s of it, I cannot stomach another page. I don't need this kind of stress in my reading life.
Kate
Apr 09, 2012 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If I were to tell you what happens in this book, it would take 2 sentences. Those 2 sentences might bore the hell out of you. But it is almost entirely in a strip club...
Woodge
Jul 07, 2008 Woodge rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't read this author before and when I was browsing some comments on this book on Amazon, it looked like most people enjoyed this but consider The House of Sand and Fog a better book. I first heard of this after Stephen King's glowing review in EW. It's an engrossing story about an exotic dancer named April who brings her 3-year-old daughter Franny to work one night when her regular babysitter is hospitalized. April had no other backup babysitters (I know how that feels). Two of the other m ...more
max
Jul 04, 2008 max rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
I read this book cover to cover, which attests to its efficient prose despite its 500+ page length. Andre Dubus' trick is to advance the action of the loosely interlocking characters in cinematic mini-chapters, each time completely inhabiting the persona and neuroses of its subject.

Dubus is an accomplished observer and has clearly researched his Floridian subjects well. Especially fascinating are his antiheroes, a down-on-his-luck contractor and father trying to find a way to do right in all the
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Kelly
May 02, 2009 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, florida, favorites
"The Garden of Last Days" takes place within the final few days leading up to 9/11. The story follows a small cast of characters whose lives become interconnected during one long night in a strip club. Dubus delves into every thought, feeling, and action of each of these characters, superbly drawing the reader into an understanding of what motivates the choices made by these individuals. We certainly may not always condone these choices, but we do understand them. As the story unfolds, you truly ...more
David
Feb 22, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I had just one wish for this novel, it would be that Dubus had decided to remove the actual September 11 connection from this book. The story is very strong and so are the characters. It is extremely moving, but the September 11 connection gets in the way. It's like trying to have angry gorillas do ballet. It isn't that Dubus can't handle it, but it is just too charged. It distracts from the beauty of the novel. I know that this is where the germ of inspiration sprouted, but I wish he had cha ...more
Holly
Feb 13, 2015 Holly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: opted-out, 2014-reads
A 2008 novel my book club recently selected for an upcoming discussion. (I didn't tell them that I'd decided years ago to skip this one.) I started reading in good faith and with a mind if not open at least ajar, but knew by page 30 it's not the sort of fiction I'd want to stay with for 544 pages. I actually like Dubus! - His memoir Townie is a stunner, House of Sand and Fog was interesting (if "bloated"), Dirty Love is a to-read, and he seems like the nicest guy in interviews I've heard. But th ...more
Jonathan Karmel
Based on reports that some of the World Trade Center hijackers visited strip clubs shortly before 9/11, this book tells the fictionalized story of one of the strippers. The three main characters are the stripper, the hijacker and one of the other male patrons of the strip club. I thought the stripper was kind of dull and two-dimensional; she just wants to save up money to buy a house for herself and her daughter and has no friends and no apparent interest in men or sex. On the other hand, I thou ...more
Karen
Feb 24, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. While it explores the gritty world of a single mother who happens to be a stripper - the love she has for her daughter and what she must do to keep her makes this a moving story with excellent character development.
Fredsky
Mar 08, 2009 Fredsky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This garden of flawed characters begins with a stripper bringing her 3-year-old daughter to work because her sitter is sick. This night at the club brings together many creepy people and their interactions are described in tawdry detail. One by one, new stereotypes are introduced. The night goes on, the book goes on. Even as a mere reader, I resented being stuck for so long with a bunch of strippers and their parasites in a dark, ugly club. It all seemed tedious to me.

Although even the terroris
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Jennifer Campaniolo
I loved The House of Sand and Fog and the way Andre Dubus III (son of the late writer Andre Dubus) built tension among the characters--a young, white, alcoholic woman and a family of Iranian immigrants, both claiming the right to ownership of a house. It was the kind of dramatic novel a modern day Shakespeare would write, where the culminating tragedy had been foretold all along.

Most of the story In the Garden of Last Days plays out at the Puma Club for Men, a strip club in Sarasota, FL. Dubus a
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Daphne Atkeson
Jun 09, 2009 Daphne Atkeson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is really a 3 1/2 star to me. Considering that the author's considerable talent was underused in a cliched premise, it should be a 3, but the brilliance shone through enough that as a reader I'd give it that extra 1/2 point.

Another ensemble story tracking four POVs spiraling out from one night at a strip club before Sept. 11, where, you guessed it, one of the hijackers hires a stripper (heroine of story) for a private hour in the "Champagne Room." It seemed cheap and phony to drag 9/11 int
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Michael
Jan 21, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
Recommended by Stephen King as one of the best books of 2008, I picked this one up with high expectations.

King's made some great recommendations in the past and helped me discover the joys of reading Laura Lippman (for which I will be eternally grateful).

But as for "Garden of Last Days," it was more of a miss than a hit. I enjoyed the story, but maybe my expectations were ratcheted up a bit too high after hearing King heap praise on the novel. It's a story with 9/11 firmly at the center, though
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Christopher Allen
My reading of this novel began so hopefully. At AWP a friend made me aware of the author's existence. He was there at AWP, and of course I had no idea who he was. I hate that. So I bought a book. And to be fair, I liked--maybe even loved--the first 50 or so pages.

Then the narrative began to fall apart. It's a multi-POV affair, which can be great. This one isn't. The attempt to imitate the Egyptian-sounding foreigner is corny but not cornier than the attempt to imitate the good old boy who's work
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Emily
Nov 13, 2008 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure I get Dubus. He is no doubt a fantastic storyteller. His books are very easy to read. The words and dialogue just flow and all of the sudden I've read 100 pages, and I don't know how. But now that I have read both House of Sand and Fog and Garden of Last Days, I sense a pattern. And I dont like to see patterns in terms of an author. If I did, I would be happy reading the formulaic writing of Jodi Picoult. I feel like Dubus loves writing about down and out people. Strippers, ex-drugg ...more
Chuckell
Jul 16, 2008 Chuckell added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like to be kinda bummed out.
Yet another entry in that grand canon of books I like to think of as Florida: Our Scuzziest State. Most of the entries in this robust branch of literature consist of lightly humorous capers by Carl Hiaasen, but Dubus has offered up a darker, moodier, more lit'ry volume to put on the shelf next to the neon-colored Elmore Leonard mass-market paperbacks.

A friend said he hadn't really enjoyed A House of Sand and Fog, because it was all about people making bad choices and he finds himself all too pro
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Barbie
Jul 23, 2008 Barbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author Andre Dubus explores human relationships and motivation in this story that brings together 4 unlikely characters in the seamier side of life in south Florida: April, who works as a stripper to pay the bills and care for her young daughter Franny; Jean, April's landlady, babysits for Franny only to discover that the little girl gives her life a new purpose; AJ, a lonely young man estranged from his wife and a frequent customer to the strip club where April works; and April's rich foreign c ...more
Melody
Jul 20, 2008 Melody rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: Mary Ann
Shelves: bookgroup
Each of the main characters is doing the right thing. April is a stripper with a three-year old daughter, dancing because that’s the easiest way for her to make money and the quickest way for her to save enough to buy a house for her and Frannie to live in. AJ sees a small child wander out of the strip club, crying for her mother and he rescues her from what could happen to her, and from a mother who would take her to such a place. And Bassam is doing only what Allah would have him do.

The idea
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Sharon
May 29, 2013 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how I missed this one. Been around since 2008 and I loved his first book.
The writing here reminds me of a watercolorist working: another muted color (character) added, then the edges softened with language into a seamless garment.
I was grateful for the short chapters because of the many characters.
I am not spoiling letting you know that some of those characters include some of the nineteen terrorists of 9/11, but that is a very small part of this novel and not really crystalized un
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Helen
Jan 16, 2015 Helen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I went from reading Faulkner's Light in August to this...so I am probably a bit biased. I found this book completely boring. Dubus' attempt at trying to analyse the characters and making them 'difficult' was at such a superficial level. I didn't care about any of them.

The writing was dry and he tended to repeat certain descriptions way too many times; if that was his idea of adding themes and symbolism, it really didn't stick out in a good way.

To me, the moment a book looks like it could work
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Jennifer
Dec 31, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
Perhaps not a book for everyone, but it was perfect for me.

Dubus is so clearly gifted in his ability to grind out the shadows, the secrets, the gritty parts of people.

It's a perfect read to learn a little bit about the weakness of humanity, the way we move beyond the flaws of others, the faults of ourselves and how even in the darkness, our eyes can adjust to push onward.
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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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“But even in September, Thursday was a big money night, seven to eight hundred take-home, and that's what April concentrated on as she drove, Franny's chin starting to loll against her chest—April made herself think of that fat roll of tens and twenties she'd have at closing, how she'd fold it into the front pocket of her jeans then go to the house mom's office off the dressing room and give Tina a hundred before she found Franny in her pj's on Tina's brown vinyl couch, and she'd try not to think of the walls above Tina's desk covered with dancers' schedules and audition Polaroids of naked women, some of them under postcards from girls who came and went.” 2 likes
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