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House of Sand and Fog Paperback – March 31, 2011
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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Oprah Book Club® Selection, November 2000: Andre Dubus III wastes no time in capturing the dark side of the immigrant experience in America at the end of the 20th century. House of Sand and Fog opens with a highway crew composed of several nationalities picking up litter on a hot California summer day. Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian military under the Shah, reflects on his job-search efforts since arriving in the U.S. four years before: "I have spent hundreds of dollars copying my credentials; I have worn my French suits and my Italian shoes to hand-deliver my qualifications; I have waited and then called back after the correct waiting time; but there is nothing." The father of two, Behrani has spent most of the money he brought with him from Iran on an apartment and furnishings that are too expensive, desperately trying to keep up appearances in order to enhance his daughter's chances of making a good marriage. Now the daughter is married, and on impulse he sinks his remaining funds into a house he buys at auction, thus unwittingly putting himself and his family on a trajectory to disaster. The house, it seems, once belonged to Kathy Nicolo, a self-destructive alcoholic who wants it back. What starts out as a legal tussle soon escalates into a personal confrontation--with dire results.
Dubus tells his tragic tale from the viewpoints of the two main adversaries, Behrani and Kathy. To both of them, the house represents something more than just a place to live. For the colonel, it is a foot in the door of the American dream; for Kathy, a reminder of a kinder, gentler past. In prose that is simple yet evocative, House of Sand and Fog builds to its inevitable denouement, one that is painfully dark but unfailingly honest. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Dubus's chronicle of the American Dream gone awry is distinguished by his sympathetic delineation of lower-middle class life. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
For much of the book, the story is compelling. The two main characters, though not especially likeable, evoke the reader’s sympathy. After all, they were trying to improve their lot, taking the right steps and making reasonable choices, until a fluke of fate intervenes. The situation the author has created places them into a crucible that tests their character and reflects the human condition.
But great tragedies drive the lead characters inexorably toward their doom. Given their human flaws and the circumstance, they have no way out. As this book moves toward its conclusion, I found myself wondering if these characters would really take the steps needed to fall further, or if the author was expediently taking some short cuts to complete the story.
Though this story was well written throughout and presented a great premise, I felt the story a bit contrived despite the strong start, and therefore found the tragedy less compelling.
Kathy is forcibly moved out of her house and becomes involved with the sheriff's deputy, Lester, who served her eviction papers. All Kathy wants is her old life and her house back and all of her actions from this point on are directed toward that goal.
The stories of the Colonel and Kathy converge, with Dubus presenting both sides of this dilemma in a way that leaves the reader feeling that both parties are in the right in their desire for a decent life and a decent place to live. Unfortunately, both cannot win in the situation as it exists , and the plot moves toward disaster.
I found this book to be very well written--Dubus carefully reveals the characters' flaws as well as the flaws in the system without ever making a judgment. I found myself having very strong feelings about these characters, always a sign of good writing.
I would highly recommend this book, probably one of the most powerful novels I have ever read.
The premise of this story didn't seem interesting to me, but my teenage daughter was assigned the book in school and asked me to read it, too. I'm so glad she did! It's amazing how relatable the characters are. You can feel for both sides of the issue and get a "what would I do" feeling throughout the story. This is one that will stay with you.