Monday, November 9, 2009

House of Sand and Fog--Andre Dubus III

Genre: Fiction
Year Published: 1999
Pages: 368
Rating: 4.5/5

The fat one, the radish Torez, he calls me camel because I am Persian and because I can bear this August sun longer than the Chinese and the Panamanians and even the little Vietnamese, Tran.

This book is very, very good, and very, very sad. An absolute tragedy, in fact. It centers around three main characters, all desperately fighting for their own self-preservation but in different ways. Kathy is a thirty-something recovering alcoholic/addict whose husband left her and who feels she has disappointed her family and longs for one of her own. Colonel Behrani is an immigrant from Iran whose family fled for their lives after an uprising, and who has fallen from wealth into the humiliation of menial labor and his family's disappointment. Deputy Burdon is trapped in a loveless marriage--at least on his end--and struggles with his own self-worth. When Kathy is evicted from her home, which was bequeathed to her by her father and is all she has left of her dignity, due to a mistake, Deputy Burdon falls for her and is determined to help her get it back. But Colonel Behrani buys it at an auction and plans to resell at a much higher price to restore his family's wealth, honor, and faith in him. The three of them are so caught up in their own desperate needs that they are unaware of the tragic path they tread.

The narration switches from the first-person accounts of Kathy and the Colonel to the occasional third-person account of Burdon. But it is the first-person narration that draws the reader in. Their voices are so real, so honest, so vulnerable, and we are able to clearly see both points of view. Though the ending was a little rushed and perhaps slightly lacking for closure, this book was one of my best reads of the year. Now I have to see the movie.

Book a week # 51
Challenges: TBR, What's in a Name
Date Read: 11/9/09

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