max's Reviews > The Garden of Last Days

The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III
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's review
Jul 04, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: library
Read in June, 2008

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 wrong ways, and an aspiring Jihadi terrorist modeled on Mohamed Atta. Equally developed are a strip club dancer/single mother and her landlord, a widowed retiree who functions as a second parent for her tenant's daughter.

The story doesn't crescendo or conclude with anything bold or particularly unnerving, as Dubus nervously skirts denouement, instead hoping the contrasting vibes of his characters will create a kind of minor harmony that outlives the last page. Unfortunately, like most page turners, the spell is broken whenever the spine is closed.
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Fran Most accurate review so far

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