Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III

Released: 2008

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, and because April cannot risk calling in sick, she must take her daughter Franny with her to the strip club where she will be watched by the club's "house-mother". As readers can presume, a strip-club is no place for a toddler, and drama ensues when Franny goes missing.

The entire book takes place within a span of about five days; its plot centralized around April and Franny, and comprised of chapters and intimate glances at a cast of very involved and colorful characters.
We have:
                    Lonnie- a bouncer at the strip-club with feelings for April
                    A.J.- an alcoholic kicked out of the club that night for rough behavior
                    Deena- A.J.'s estranged wife
                    Virginia- A.J.'s ailing and ignorant mother
                    Jean- April's tenant and babysitter
                    Bassam- an Egyptian with plans to terrorize the United States

Together, these characters weave a story and chain of events that cause quite the butterfly effect and will make us re-evaluate the actions and decisions we make on a daily basis.

As a reader, I am pleasantly surprised and ecstatic that despite its length, this novel does not have any lulls. The chapters and breaks occur at just the right times and in its entirety is written in a fashion that will keep you addicted until you finish.

My only disappointment in The Garden of Last Days is its ending based on true events. The novel is so well-written and I would rather have liked to see originality and more of a fictional ending. I think this book is infinitely better than House of Sand and Fog, which was a sleeper for me that I couldn't finish. If you were also put off by House of Sand and Fog, don't let it prevent you from picking The Garden of Last Days.

                                     House of Sand and Fog (Oprah's Book Club) (Vintage Contemporaries)          

Any lover of literature and drama should read this book. Put it on your wish list if you haven't already!

Andre Dubus III's first novel is entitled Bluesman, and he is due to release his autobiography in 2011 entitled Townie.

                    Bluesman: A Novel       Townie: A Memoir           

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