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The Garden of Last Days

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  4,385 Ratings  ·  797 Reviews
Andre Dubus III draws us into the lives of three deeply flawed, driven people whose paths intersect on a September night in Florida. April, a stripper, has brought her daughter to work at the Puma Club for Men. There she encounters Bassam, a foreign client both remote and too personal and free with his money. Meanwhile, another man, AJ, has been thrown out of the club, and ...more
Hardcover, 535 pages
Published May 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2008)
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Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Scouring my beautiful but woefully understocked local library for anything recently published that I'd be interested in reading has led me (finally) to Andre Dubus III. Since I'd already seen the movie adaptation of House of Sand and Fog, I was much more intrigued by its only Dubus III shelfmate, The Garden of Last Days, a 2008 release with a whopping 95% fewer ratings on Goodreads than 1999's House of Sand and Fog. I needed to explore that disparity.

I'm guessing much of the novel's GR
Melissa Madrid
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Bluehaired Granny
Jul 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Paula Dembeck
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story, a mix of fact and fiction, takes place during the days just before 9/11, that tragedy serving more as the context rather than the driver of the narrative.

April is a stripper who works at the Puma Club for Men under the stage name of Spring. She is divorced, a single mother with a three year old daughter named Franny. Jean is April’s kind landlady who lives nearby and babysits Franny while her mother works, but Jean is not available on this particular night as she has been hospitaliz
May 03, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Kezzy Sparks
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: america, literary
Fantastic read about an American stripper and the nine-eleven hijackers. April comes alive in this page-turner
May 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Oct 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
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...
Jun 16, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jul 04, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 13, 2012 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
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Charles Matthews
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Novelists keep being drawn to the events of September 11, 2001, hoping to confine the heinous imponderables of that day into the shapings of fiction. Writers as various as Jay McInerney (The Good Life), Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) and John Updike (Terrorist) have made their attempts at it.

It’s hardly surprising that Andre Dubus III should join them with his new novel, The Garden of Last Days. Even before 9/11, in his 1999 novel House of Sand and Fog, he gave us a s
Jennifer Campaniolo
May 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Christopher Allen
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 07, 2008 added it
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
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Daphne Atkeson
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jonathan Karmel
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it
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
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A disturbing walk in the garden 2 64 Sep 24, 2013 04:54PM  
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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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