- MP3 CD
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (Feb. 28 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1455809209
- ISBN-13: 978-1455809202
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.3 x 17.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 68 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
Garden of Last Days(MP3)(Unabr.)
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About the Author
Andre Dubus III is the author of House of Sand and Fog (an Oprah’s Book Club selection and finalist for the National Book Award), Bluesman, and The Cage Keeper and Other Stories. He lives with his family north of Boston.
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This story was very entertaining, and reads quickly.
Andre does a good job of intertwining all the ordinary/everyday character's stories into the final conclusion at the end of the book.
This is a different book from the House of Sand & Fog, as there are more characters, and many sub-plots, but still a good book and enjoyable read.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
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.
Eden is an enclosed garden with two trees: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of immortality, the landscape of the soul. Configuring the novel with myth puts Dubus in company with Joseph Campbell who uses myth to find spiritual meaning in a postmodern world, which is exactly what Dubus attempts.
He sets his novel in the tropical landscape of Florida. He contrasts elements of the tree of knowledge of good and evil by describing Jean's lovely garden and the sleazy Puma Club. Behind Jean's enclosed garden is innocent goodness, full of light--the perfect setting for April's three year old daughter Franny. The Puma Club, a strip joint, is another enclosed garden, but it is dark, a setting for degradation where women commodify themselves selling sexuality, and lonely men numb themselves with drugs and booze in a misguided effort to make a human connection.
Although April spends her nights entertaining in this garden of lost innocence, she lives in both gardens and is the tie to all the characters in the story. Once Dubus introduces the characters he constructs a plot that moves the narrative to a fatalistic conclusion. Do the characters have free will or are their lives predictable? The reader knows early in the story where the plot is going. Does Dubus think the players have any choice about their fate?
He cares deeply about all of them. He details them in small increments. First he portrays stereotypes: April, single mother, exotic dancer; Jean, elderly lonely widow; AJ, divorced father and alcoholic; and Bassam, Muslim fundamentalist terrorist. Each time Dubus returns to detail a character he gives more facets--flashbacks revealing childhood, motivations, and human vulnerabilities. One of Dubus' interests is how the role of mother affects each character. He spells out April's interactions with her mother, AJ's, Bassam's; and the influence these mothers had on their children. Dubus presents April as mother to Franny; he presents Jean, childless, but also a mother the Franny. AJ, though male, is a nurturing mother-figure, better than his wife Deena, to his own son and to Franny. Dubus struggles with these imperfect mothers, who come up short cherishing their own children, imprinting them with weakness.
A sensitive observer, a genius at detail, Dubus does not accept a one dimensional stereotype. His characters contradict themselves: evil ones are sometimes kind; kind ones show a dark side. Just when the reader is ready to condemn a character Dubus slips in a vulnerable fact and the reader starts to care. Bassam, a terrorist with a warped perspective, becomes human when Dubus inserts an incident from childhood that lets the reader know how insecure Bassam is, how conflicted he was in relationship to his father. Despicable AJ drives drunk with Franny in his truck, but when the reader sees his sincere concern for the child, AJ is no longer simply an old drunk. The reader has empathy for the characters because Dubus cares about each of them.
What's to become of these fictional characters? What do they tell us about Dubus' view of the world in the garden of last days? Last Days? What becomes of the characters after they die?
Joseph Campbell says myth is shaped by recognition of mortality and the requirement to transcend it is the first great impulse to mythology. He says the second impulse is that the social group that nourishes man existed before him and will survive him. And finally Campbell says that man, aware of his landscape, relates himself to the universe, not as the center of the universe but as a part. Is this the way Dubus sees the world? We all live in the garden of last days. We are all interrelated. We have choices and we impact each other.
What is Dubus' answer to the universal questions: what is the nature of man; does he have free will; and what is his purpose? Dubus seems to believe in fate, but he also believes in social interaction. He clearly sees evil and innocence as part of the human condition. Does he believe we really have free will? His novel asks questions but leaves many questions unanswered. Myth may be the only way to get to the essence of the human condition.
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.