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The Garden of Last Days Hardcover – 28 Aug 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd (28 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434019208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434019205
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 4.4 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,761,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


`An explosive narrative employs a Florida strip club as a tinderbox of tensions on the weekend before 9/11...Dubus shows a profound empathy as he gets inside the heads of a number of characters...A masterful job...Difficult to put down, impossible to forget.' -- Kirkus (starred review)

Book Description

The stunning new literary thriller from the author of the bestselling House of Sand and Fog. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Set on the west coast of Florida from Thursday, September 6, through Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the ironically entitled The Garden of Last Days focuses on the sleazy netherworld of the Puma Club for Men, a strip joint on the outskirts of Sarasota. Five characters share their stories during the time leading up to the catastrophe at the World Trade Center, and as their lives intersect and overlap with each other, they create a broad panorama of life's darkest side with all its personal challenges. As author Andre DuBus III individualizes the characters, they become a microcosm of hopes and dreams, mistakes and failures, and, in some rare cases, triumphs against insuperable odds.

April Connors, the mother of three-year-old Franny, strips at the Puma in order to save money so she can buy a house for herself and her daughter, refusing to resort to prostitution and keeping her head high as Spring, an exotic dancer. Her elderly landlady, Jean, a widow with heart trouble, who babysits for Franny, adores Franny and treats her like her own, but when she checks herself into the hospital, April has no childcare and has to take Franny to the Puma Club. Lonnie, a bouncer, rigidly enforces the "hands-off" policy of the club, sadistically enjoying the mayhem he wreaks if someone steps over the line. AJ Carey, a heavy equipment operator, arrives at the Puma depressed, after his wife gets a restraining order against him. Drawn to Marianne, one of the dancers, AJ is outraged when Marianne turns off, and he is ejected from the club.

The last character at the Puma, the "elephant in the room" of this novel, is Bassam al-Jizani, a young Islamist trained for a September 11 mission. Bassam, naïve, is determined to find out as much about women as possible until the day of his mission arrives.
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Format: Paperback
Couldn't put it down but at the same time did not really enjoy the emotions created by this explicit creation. Unlike any book I have read in the recent past but I fully recommend it for those who are not faint hearted.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Just could not get into it and I usually love his books do not recommend would not try another book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars 164 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Major Disappointment 9 Mar. 2013
By Tyler Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I see the huge split on this book and understand it to some extent. Like me, many reviewers came to it having read the outstanding "House of Sand and Fog" with very high expectations. Second, the gift for language that Dubus possesses undoubtedly carried many along -- myself included -- hoping that the novel would ultimately deliver its long-promised prize. Upon arriving at the novel's surprisingly flat ending, it's understandable some readers might have concluded they must have missed the author's subtle point.

I think, unfortunately, this was a poorly conceived and executed novel by a writer of great talent. However tantalizing the initial premise -- the prospect of a stripper who brings her child to work and loses her daughter woven together with a potential terrorist in the house, an addled customer thrown out over his misplaced love for a dancer and a bouncer with both a conscience a taste for violence -- none of it ultimately comes together. The "connections" prove to be random. There is no plot device, no carefully constructed string of events, no philosophical point of view that ties the characters together. A chance meeting between a stripper and a terrorist on the night a guy gets thrown out of the strip club and picks up the stripper's kid is not the foundation for a novel, whatever the skill of the writer. Anyone of us might be in the room tomorrow with a guy or women who makes news for all the wrong reasons, but that wouldn't make our story worth telling.

The cardinal sin, however, is Dubus gave us very little reason to care about the characters. The portrayal of Bassam, the man bent on terror, is tedious and filled with cardboard ideological utterances. That may befit the character of those who spend their lives plotting how to exact revenge on their supposed Western oppressors, but that didn't make him in the least bit interesting. April, the stripper, demands very little in the way of empathy, and we're given far too little about her to form any kind of emotional connection. The inner monologues of A.J., the reluctant kidnapper, build some momentum, but in the end his actions are far too stupid and misguided to maintain much interest.

The reader waits in vain as he turns the final pages for a conclusion that brings satisfaction. The final message seems to be that life goes on. Okay, but I was left feeling no curiosity about what might happen to the characters who survived. It's a strangely weak novel that certainly doesn't sustain interst over its 500-plus pages. Dubus would have done well to cut the length in half. Best skipped in favor of his beautifully crafted previous novel.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Sorrow That This Is MY Last Day... 5 Mar. 2010
By ViAmber - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
...of reading this incredible novel. What a storyteller, Dubus is! I could not put the book down and read it basically straight through in 2 days. I cared about almost all of the characters, except Bassam. I felt that Dubus really did his research on some of the factors that led up to 9/11. The strip club subculture was fascinating and sounded very realistic. I really cared about April and Franny! AND I cared about AJ, bless his doofus heart. I kept hoping he'd get out of jail and lead a more productive and happy life.

Some of the reviewers have commented on Dubus' writing being overblown, but I couldn't disagree more. As a matter of fact, I noticed that with the closing of each chapter the last sentence would be written in the most beautiful, descriptive manner. Not overblown at all. A great writer and an incredible read.
2.0 out of 5 stars The Turtle Crawls Across The Street 3 Sept. 2013
By Ed Arnold - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you've read Andre Dubus III before you pretty well know what to expect. A lot of background and minute detail and not much plot or action. If it takes over 500 pages to cover 24 hours then, well you know. It's like watching a turtle crawl across the street and every inch along the way is described in tiresome detail. (I thought we were through with Henry James) And of course the kicker is that when the turtle gets across the street all we get out of it is that the turtle is across the street. Well, this book wore me out so I guess I'll go to bed. I have a king size bed, the sheets are a sky blue kind of like the sky out in Montana, and my comforter is blue and red because I went to Ole Miss and that's the school colors, and I have a nightstand with a black radio
with an alarm that's shows orange if it's on and I have five grand children and ................
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed 21 Oct. 2012
By Robyn - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This story was a disappointment.I really enjoyed House Of Sand and Fog and was looking forward to another book from Mr Dubus 111.I read some different reviews and decided to go ahead after one saying "I am really glad I stuck with it".I didn't enjoy the story subject and I do feel his books need to be edited more.As for reviews I think if they come to the point quickly a decision on purchase can be made knowing you are going to enjoy reading.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prelude to Perdition ! ! ! 14 April 2011
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Loved Dubus, III's "House of Sand and Fog" and "Townies"...So decided to dive into this book, though prior to ordering it I was unaware of its existence. What a FIND! A real TREASURE!

April makes one (1) hasty decision that catapults an avalanche of horrific events, which seamlessly collide with one another throughout the book. Really liked the way the author gives a us a backstage pass into the mindsets of the well-developed cast of characters. He tells the tale by alternating the various characters' viewpoints. It is amazing to see the different ways that each interprets the same incident. Each individual's past experiences definitely color his/her perspective.

The writing was exactly what I have come to expect from Dubus--concise, no-nonsense verbiage that effortlessly transports you to the pertinent location and time--Florida in September, 2001. He only divulges details that are crucial to the narrative and doesn't annoy you with unnecessary fluff...NMR
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