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The Garden of Last Days: A Novel Paperback – Jun 2 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; Reprint edition (June 2 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393335305
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393335309
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.8 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 721 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #130,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This fascinating novel is a powerful look at connection and love played out inside of a strip club in Florida. The central character is April, a stripper forced to bring her child to work because her babysitter has a panic attack. A male narrator seems a poor choice, as a strong female performance would have captured the essence of the story far better. Dan John Miller reads clearly and with good pacing, but his deep monotone lacks emotion. While the writing is certainly first rate and the characters completely realistic, Miller fails to capture the listener's attention. A W.W. Norton hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 17). (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Muscular and disquieting and turn-the-pages-so-fast-you-tear-them good. — Esquire

Storytelling of the finest kind . . . [an] incandescent and absorbing novel. — Boston Sunday Globe

A very fast and entertaining read. . . . Every passage is expertly, elegantly achieved. — Madison Smart Bell (Philadelphia Inquirer)

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read this book based on the rave review it received by Stephen King in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. I really enjoyed his previous book House of Sand and Fog and was looking forward to another page turner with great plot and unique characters. I kept reading the book waiting for it to get better and after 200 pages I realized that I did not care about any of the characters and I had to force myself to read it each night. I can appreciate it for being a well written book, but the characters were not very interesting and the plot dragged. Don't waste your time and I think I'll have to give second thoughts next time I read about a book that Stephen King recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I read and enjoyed this book immensely. It covers the months and days leading up to 9-11 from all different sides. We get an insight into what may have been going on in the heads of the hijackers as well as the peple they came in contact with. I found it extrememly entertaining and thought provoking.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree with the previous 5 star review.
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9d8172d0) out of 5 stars 161 reviews
102 of 120 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d080f84) out of 5 stars "A little luck like this felt like bait for bigger luck." June 2 2008
By Luan Gaines - Published on
Format: Hardcover
While House of Sand and Fog addressed the heartbreaking dilemma of a proud Iranian immigrant faced with the intractable demands of a young woman and a bureaucratic blunder with tragic consequences pre-9/11, The Garden of Last Days tumbles into a much darker landscape on the eve of America's loss of innocence. The internal drama is played out on the tawdry runway of a Florida Gulf Coast strip club, the Puma Club for Men, where April is forced to break her own strict rule, taking her three-year-old daughter, Franny, to work rather than miss an opportunity to salt away more money toward a future free of the decadent circumstances in which she now makes her living. April is a bit of an anomaly, with a well-thought out plan for escaping the downward spiral of such employment, most of the other dancers fortifying themselves with drugs and the occasional extra date with customers after the club closes. But April is thrown off the usual rhythm of her bifurcated life, the dayworld/nightworld of April/Spring when her landlady goes to the hospital unexpectedly with an anxiety attack.

Deeply troubled by this merging of two worlds, April has every reason to doubt the wisdom of her decision as the shift grinds on. Tina, who agrees to keep an eye on Franny while April dances is at best lackadaisical about Franny's care in a cramped office just off the women's dressing room, Tina easily distracted by the demands of her boss. Tiny Franny, in her pink pajamas, is by turns enthralled by her Disney movies and snacks, but needing constant reassurance that her mother will soon take her home. The following hours are filled with a heart-stopping chain of events portending disaster, the incessant beat of the DJ's selections as each stripper takes to the stage, the drunken shouts of customers paying for a show, the exchange of money for services, all under the guise of a good time. April is watched: by Louis, her lascivious boss; by Lonnie, a bouncer who views "Spring" as different from the others; by Bassam, a chain-smoking, intense young man from Saudi Arabia who walks straight into the embrace of evil, unable to resist the seduction of this foreign country's blatant disregard for modesty. On the cusp of a great personal sacrifice, Bassam covets April's attention in the private Champagne Room, willing to pay handsomely for his moral digression.

Fleshed out by the disaffection of a loud-mouthed customer, AJ, who is thrown out of the club for unacceptable behavior, a terrible chain of events is set in motion, AJ desperate to reclaim wife and son, a victim of his own excesses and a fixation on a wide-eyed dancer whose only interest is in his wallet. As AJ's transgressions pile up in contrast to his best intentions, pinballing over the wreckage of his past actions, Bassam focuses on April/Spring, alternately judging and lecturing while April cannot keep her eyes from the hundreds of dollars that will bring her dream that much closer. As the hours pass, a diverse cast divulges their secrets, the individual histories that have led to this fateful night on the Gulf Coast, the shattered dreams, the misspent promise of youth, lives sidetracked by necessity and bad choices, at the heart of it the slightly ranting of a fanatical Bassam, seduced by the imperfections of the flesh while embracing the distortions of his extremist education.

April otherwise engaged, a little girl awakens, alone and afraid, crying for her mother; a drunk, angry man notices, blundering through his own vague yearnings. And once more, through the minutiae of random struggles, a greater tragedy evolves. Certainly Dubus is a master of the unexpected confluence of events begun through the collision of human frailty and false pride, an impending cultural cataclysm that erases America's innocence. Based on fact, this novel's exploration of the seedy underbelly of modern culture is both intense and broad, Dubus once more shaking a distracted psyche and reminding us to pay attention. Luan Gaines/ 2008.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d080fd8) out of 5 stars Flawed thinking, inevitable disasters March 19 2010
By J. Zimmer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The beauty of this book was the writer's uncanny ability to share the insides of his characters' heads in a believable way. The people are so genuine and the results of their random collisions with each other are so predictable that the tension is in the inevitability of the outcome. You KNEW some characters were going to be trouble right from the start and it was excruciating not to be able to intervene, to watch the night unravel.
Having been connected to the judicial system (in a good way) for 30 some years, I found the characters' flawed thought processes were consistant and believable. I didn't think it was slow and I didn't want to miss a moment of the writing, as I sometimes do when authors describe scenery and Yaddah Yaddah Yaddah. If you are a student of human motivation and behavior you will like this book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d05742c) out of 5 stars My Sorrow That This Is MY Last Day... March 5 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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d057414) out of 5 stars Disappointed Oct. 21 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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d0577d4) out of 5 stars Major Disappointment March 8 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.