The Garden of Last Days

The Garden of Last Days

by Andre Dubus III

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“So good, so damn compulsively readable, that I can hardly believe it.” —Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly

In his stunning follow-up to the #1 best-selling House of Sand and Fog, Andre Dubus draws us into the lives of three deeply flawed, driven people whose paths intersect on a September night in Florida. April, a stripper, has brought her daughter to work at the Puma Club for Men. There she encounters Bassam, a foreign client both remote and too personal, and free with his money. Meanwhile, another man, AJ, has been thrown out of the club, and he’s drunk and angry and lonely. From these explosive elements comes a relentless, raw, and page-turning narrative that seizes the reader by the throat with psychological tension, depth, and realism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393068849
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/01/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 1,078,791
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Andre Dubus III is the author of Gone So Long, Dirty Love, The Garden of Last Days, House of Sand and Fog (a #1 New York Times bestseller, Oprah’s Book Club pick, and finalist for the National Book Award), and Townie, winner of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His writing has received many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Magazine Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. He lives with his family north of Boston.


Newbury, MA

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:



University of Texas at Austin

Customer Reviews

The Garden of Last Days 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 65 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a disappointment. I purchased this book after reading Stephen King's glowing review in Entertainment Weekly. Unfortunately, I was not as enamored with the book. This was only the second time, in all the books I've read, that I've almost not finished a novel I've started to read. I forced myself to continue reading, thinking it would get better. It did not.
sharlene_w on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Following on the heel of House and Sand and Fog, this book just didn't measure up. Some interesting moments, but disappointing overall. Stephen King... what were you smoking when you said it was the best book you read all winter? I'm guessing it must have been the only book you read. All of the various storylines were predictable as were the characters. Could have, should have, would have read something else...
CatieN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book takes place in the couple days leading up to 9/11. April is a dancer at the Puma Club for Men in Florida. When her landlady/babysitter, Jean, is rushed to the hospital with chest pains, April decides to take her 3-year-old daughter, Franny, to work with her, not wanting to lose out on a night's earnings. A.J. is a man separated from his wife and son by a restraining order and is looking for love in all the wrong places. Bassam is a young Muslim man who believes everything American is evil but is equally fascinated and repelled by the dancers at the club. All of these characters are at a crossroads, and the decisions they make have major consequences in their lives and others'. It was a dark but realistic story that made me think.
kateiyzie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A stripper mom and her unwatched kid. A little uncomfortable suspense, but overall a pretty good read. Enjoyed House of Sand and Fog quite a bit more.
novelcommentary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this similar to House of Sand and Fog in the way the alternating, tense chapters provided multiple viewponts. Several characters depict the events just before 9/11 and almost all of the characters make bad decisions. The characters include: April, a beautiful stripper who had to bring her 3 year old daughter, Franny ,to work one day. Also Bassam who is a practicing pilot whose ultimate mission may by the Twin Towers, Jean who loves to babysit Franny is she is not suffering from an anxiety attacke. ---and AJ, a rejected dad and husband ..who gets his wrist broken by the strip club bouncer for putting his hands on one of the girls. The plot is taken up by the missing daughter and the convoluted plan that AJ undertakes, but the sub plot of Bassam and his wavering between enjoying the flesh of the western world or submiting to the jihad that will help to punish these infidels is the most interesting. Dumas writes that he spend a lot of time researching this book and it was interesting to know that some of the terrorist did in fact enjoy these pleasures of the flesh on the eve of thier religious mission. All in all I enjoyed this very plot driven novel. In reading about the book, I realized that Dumas was born on Sept 11 and have to wonder if having this event mar his birthday created some kind of interest in writing about these last days.
ljkiser on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Started out very good, I could hardly put it down. The last 1/4 just drug on and on however. I liked the main characters (April, Jean, AJ, Franny) but some of the characters (Bassam, Lonnie) were kind of boring. Even though Bassam was an intergral part of the story (perhaps even the MOST integral part) I just felt nothing for him.
CarolynSchroeder on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Boy, I sure wanted to like this novel, but it ended up being so flat. I'm not sure if the characters just never resonated with me or I did not care for the subject matter, but I could not care one iota what happened to ANY of these people (and they seemed absurdly cliche, especially the oh-so conflicted stripper mom, hasn't that been done before, and before, and before?). I kept on reading hoping it would get better, but it really just ... did not. The writing is fine, what kept me engaged probably, but this talented author needs better vehicles for his skills. It's amazing that jihad, terrorism/911 and a strip club in South Florida could be boring, but it all sure was. I think if even one of the characters was likeable, it would have helped. The predictable "wrap up" at the ending was just rather goofy and tacked on. Anyway, just "blah" ... I don't recommend this one, to anyone, for any reason.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very intense book that moves incredibly slowly at first ¿ you can read for an hour and find the storyline has moved on only a few minutes. Then towards the end things start to speed up, before a rapid sprint for the line in the final chapters. Set in the days and hours leading up to 9/11, the novel follows a small cast of characters in Florida. Chief among them are people you wouldn¿t perhaps expect to like ¿ a stripper, a wife beater, and a terrorist. But in his meticulous prose the author sets out to understand all these people, to make them and their motivations and goals real. I found myself empathising with the wife beating character when he faced a gut wrenching dilemma partway through the story. Such is the strength of this novel, which ultimately invites the reader to decide where their sympathies lie, and why.
hardlyhardy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first heard about the novel "The Garden of Last Days" by Andre Dubus III from a Stephen King column in Entertainment Weekly. He raved about the book so glowingly that I put the title down on my list of books to watch for. This was in 2008, and I have finally read the novel.I don't know that "The Garden of Last Days" is quite as good as King said it was -- a blurb from that column appears at the top of the paperback cover -- but it is still a terrific novel, the kind that gives book clubs lots to talk about.The story has no main character. There are no heroes and and no villains. Even Bassam, the young man who within a matter of days will be one of the 9-11 terrorists, isn't really a villain in the context of the novel. He is just another lost soul, like everybody else.April is a stripper in a men's club near Bradenton, Fla. One night her sitter is ill, so April takes her 3-year-old daughter to the club with her because she needs the money. She enlists others to watch Franny in the dressing room while she entertains Bassam, who calls himself Mike, in the VIP room. He pays her thousands of dollars to keep her with him.Meanwhile, Franny wanders away while nobody is looking, exploring the dark club in search of her mother. The child is taken by A.J., an intoxicated man whose arm was broken earlier in the evening when he was tossed out of the club by a bouncer. When A.J. returns, he sees the girl and takes her, believing he is doing a good deed. He drives away with the child, uncertain about what he should do with her.Much of the air comes out of the plot about half way through the novel when Franny is recovered, but by then readers will be fully involved in the lives of the characters and the knowledge of what will happen on Sept. 11 and they will want to keep reading, even if some of the tension is gone.Dubus puts us into the mind of each of his characters, showing us what each sees and feels and thinks. It is a masterful piece of writing.
msf59 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a solid. well-written novel!
readingfiend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It took me a long time to get into this book but once it clicked, I hurried on.It was reminiscent of House of Sand and Fog because 95% of the characters were tortured individuals. Probably everyone except the little girl! It wove together five characters and their stories - a woman, who's a stripper and the mother of a three year old girl whom she brings to her club one night when the woman downstairs can't babysit; the older woman downstairs who's prone to anxiety attacks; a patron who gets his wrist broken when he's being thrown out by a bouncer; a bouncer who's attracted to the stripper and someone on their way to their final mission.
woodge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I hadn't read this author before and when I was browsing some comments on this book on Amazon, it looked like most people enjoyed this but consider The House of Sand and Fog a better book. I first heard of this after Stephen King's glowing review in EW. It's an engrossing story about an exotic dancer named April who brings her 3-year-old daughter Franny to work one night when her regular babysitter is hospitalized. April had no other backup babysitters (I know how that feels). Two of the other main characters are patrons of the Puma club where April works. One is a Muslim man named Bassam, the other is a down-on-his-luck construction worker named AJ. The tension mounts because you just know something bad is going to happen but you're not sure exactly what and then when it does, you've no idea how it'll play out. I read this book very quickly. It is perhaps a bit longer than it needs to be -- sometimes there's just too much description that doesn't really seem necessary. The two main male characters seem to be more fleshed out than April. But that said, it was a good story. I may check out a reading that the author will be giving later this month at a local bookstore. Maybe I'll get my book signed.
txwildflower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book wasn't as good as "House of Sand And Fog" in my opinion but it kept you interested.....just wasn't a page turner.
brenzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One night in late summer 2001 told through the eyes of stripper (April), AJ (a patron who was ejected from the strip club), one of the 9/11 terrorists, Asam and Jean, April's landlady and babysitter, who was admitted to the hospital forcing April to bring her 3 year old to work with her. The child is unattended and crying at the back door of the club when AJ sees her and takes her, thinking he is saving her. April entertains Assam, clinching her connection to 9/11. Pretty well written but too long for what was needed and clearly not up to the level of "House of Sand and Fog."
conehead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The strength of this book is also its weakness. The story centers on the days prior to 9-11 and the exploits of one of the soon-to-be infamous hijackers. Bassam is torn between the temptations of the life to be had in this society he detests and that he considers evil, and his devotion to Islam and the great honor that has been bestowed upon him (amongst other things). We see the world through his eyes and it is an enlightening perspective at first.He winds up at a strip club in Florida and there he spends thousands of dollars on a stripper named Spring, drinking and smoking the whole time. His torment is almost unbearable at times, and you learn much about the terminology the jihadist use to refer to non-believers along with the anger toward our infiltration of their holy land and our way of life in general.The perspective starts to wear thin toward the end of the book as the passages in which Bassam confronts his doubts grow longer and more repetitive. There are other major characters and their story lines are engaging and intertwined with Bassam's but you finish the book thinking mostly of him and wonder what use everyone else was. As such, I thought the book dragged on a little long.
GaylDasherSmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent clash of cultures novel combined with what if the last days before 9-11 could be seen through the terrorist's eyes? Fascinating story in which a young woman forced to work as a stripper to support her young daughter crosses paths with an Arab man entranced by the easy morals of our culture and a man pushed to the brink by a failed marriage.
pwoodford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book about people sinking down to the point of catharsis. Some recover, some muddle through, some sink even deeper. A sad book, with little hope on display.
hairball on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a fast reader, so an audiobook is more of a time commitment than most books get from me, including most books I like. I did not like this book. I don't know why I listened to all of it, but I felt compelled, for some reason; if I were reading it, I would've done the same, so that's no different. But an audiobook is interminable in a special way.Why are Dubus' characters always at such a crisis point, as in House of Sand and Fog? For some reason, it really bugs me. And the internal dialogue of the terrorist didn't seem that genuine to me--nor did that of the little girl. This may have been exacerbated by the guy reading the book. I think it's hard to do either of those well, however. I'll just say that I couldn't wait for 9/11 so that at least one of the annoying characters would be gone; unfortunately, that happens way at the end of the book, and there isn't much aftermath.
edmoed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From dancing girls to what it means to be a responsible parent. A very good read.
buffalogirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although I read this book in a matter of 24 hours, I was somewhat dissappointed. It was a compelling read to be sure, and the characters internal struggles with their past and their current demons bring humanity to those that it is often easy to pass judgement on. But I think that by cutting 100 pages or so the author could have been just as effective.
OneMorePage on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On the Gulf Coast of Florida, the lives of several people come together in a "Gentlemen's Club." April, aka Spring, a single mother who is "dancing" at the club. Her 3-year-old daughter, Frannie, there only because her elderly babysitter has had a panic attack and is in the hospital for heart tests. AJ, an angry young man recently separated from his wife and young son and kept away by a restraining order. Bassam, aka "Mike," a young Muslim man, knowing he is on his way to meet Allah."Mike" hires Spring for a private dance in the Champaign Room. Believing Frannie to be sleeping and under supervision, Spring spends two hours taking off her clothes, then talking to Mike, answering his questions, then letting him tough her Cesarean scar. She ends the two hours thousands of dollars ahead - but her daughter is gone.AJ has found Frannie. She woke up and went looking for her mother. AJ puts Frannie in his car and takes her way, thinking through his alcoholic haze that he is protecting a neglected child."Mike" leaves the club that night to meet his compatriots; together, they make their way to Boston, to an American Airlines flight that will take them to Allah and change our world.The Garden of Last Days examines the morality of April / Spring. She is judged by everyone around her for her profession. Both her daughter¿s babysitter and her daughter¿s abductor decide that her profession makes her a bad mother. She is fired from her job because she is a single mother. The legal system takes her daughter away, assuming that she is a bad mother because she is a stripper. Even the man who will, only days later, be one of those who forces an American Airlines flight into one of the World Trade Center Towers tells her she is going to burn for her lifestyle. April is required to work harder than other mothers to demonstrate that she is not immoral; she is simply trying to make the money she needs to take care of herself and her daughter.A fast-paced novel that has the feel of a thriller but is more the poignant examination of the life of a young mother as the world passes into the days post-9/11.
Griff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first read of a Dubus book. An interesting view of making one's way through life from the perspective of a variety of people connected directly or indirectly with a "gentlemen's club." The personal struggles are outlined through internal reflections of the characters, with significant past experiences remembered and current ones evaluated through those filters. It is not a book filled with action. It is a book of self reflection, defintion and re-definition of self by those we meet. No one's path has been straight. No one's path has been easy. In the end, the book seems a tad too long, with many of the self reflections a tad too repetitive. The last few pages were not momentous (despite the powerfully infamous event which marks the book's transition). Quiet acknowledgement of new life decisions, growth (insha'allah), and survival. A good, but not great book.
ChazzW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As have so many before him, Dubus is in the clubhouse with his 911 novel. This was a huge disappointment for me. I never read The House of Sand and Fog, but did see the movie. Can I say that the movie was probably faithful to Dubus¿ novel without having read it? Well, of course, I can - though it may not be exactly fair. But I sensed the same feeling of overwritten melodrama here as I felt while watching the movie. Garden seemed bloated and ponderous, a huge amount of time spent on the motivations of a stripper. A huge amount of time spent living inside the mind of a jihadist. And I¿ve seen it done much better. McEwan¿s Saturday for instance. DeLillo¿s Falling Man. Even Updike on the jihadist in The Terrorist.And yet, for all that, the obvious attempt to probe and dig, the length, the laborious buildup¿it seemed to lack much insight beyond tedious and standard cliche¿s. Surprising. I haven¿t read any reviews of this, but I must be out in left field here. But it just didn¿t do it for me. Oddly enough, after the attack, the denouement was rather well written. Suddenly I was connecting with the remaining core characters. As if Dubus, relieved of the burden to make sense of it all, finally was making some human sense. But 50-75 pages out of 530 s0me odd pages does not a recommendation make - nor a memorable reading experience.
icolford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Suspenseful novel set around 9/11 2001. Brilliant balancing act that weaves recent history with half a dozen personal stories. Dubus has a knack for creating characters who, simply by pursuing their desires and trying to make their lives tolerable, set themselves on a collision course with tragedy.
Hagelstein on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A 9/11 hijacker stops at a Sarasota, Florida strip club ¿for strength¿ several days prior and sets off a string of events involving a dancer, her daughter, a customer, a bouncer and the people close to them. They each have problems and doubts about their decisions and lives ¿ including the hijacker. In alternating viewpoints, Dubus writes in intricate detail about each and what brought them to this point. The close examination allows each character to be discovered objectively despite the built-in prejudices most of them elicit.