- 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)
The Garden of Last Days Hardcover – 28 Aug 2008
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`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)
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
with an alarm that's shows orange if it's on and I have five grand children and ................
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