Wanda's Reviews > The Garden of Last Days

The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III
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Jul 09, 10

Read from February 13 to July 09, 2010 — I own a copy

Stephen King was so high on this book that I was intrigued and bought it when I found it on ebay for 99 cents. Glad I did not pay full price. This book was a mixed bag. I wound up liking it, but only because I ended up skimming much of it to get to the point and then going back to see if I missed anything. I feel guilty about doing that but if I’d read every line at the beginning I would have gotten the screaming mimis. As with many other books (too many) that I have read lately, this one begs for an editor. One could cut about 200 - 250 pages out of this book with no change other than improvement. After slogging through these 500 pages this is what the story distills to: lives that the terrorists touched before the 9/11 tragedy, where they spend their time, how did it impact our society and who they talked to in the last moments before entering the plane.
Most of the book takes place over the course of one night at a strip club in Florida. One of the protagonists is April, a stripper, who takes her child to work with her instead of staying home and missing a night of tips. It follows the characters as they are connected to April and her daughter and drags on endlessly over every last detail, including minute details of April’s wardrobe. These details most definitely did NOT move the story along and although I suspect he wanted to draw an accurate picture of the stripper life and the objectification of women, there was simply too much detail. Overkill. We get it after the first three times.
There was also too much background and not enough story. I kept reading and hoping that something would happen through Dubus’ belaboring point after point after point. Then – with little momentum it comes to a grinding halt. No fair.
Having said the above, what I appreciated was the gritty description of the life and situation of a down and out woman whose husband leaves her with a child to support on her own. April has no skills, except stripping. The choices that a woman has in such a life are not promising and it left me feeling very sad for April’s poor little girl, whose choices will be equally as truncated.
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