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House of Sand and Fog

House of Sand and Fog
Andre Dubus, III
365 pages

At the beginning of House of Sand and Fog, a recovering alcoholic named Kathy is evicted from her California home.  The Behranis, an Iranian immigrant family, buy the house at auction the next day.  Kathy discovers her eviction was due to a clerical error, and launches a legal battle to regain ownership.  The Behranis, of course, fight to keep what they now rightfully own.  Meanwhile Kathy, recently abandoned by her husband, becomes entangled in a relationship with Lester, a married police officer who was present at her eviction.  With each chapter the situation spirals more and more out of control.  First, cultural misunderstandings abound:  Kathy and Lester are frightened by the Behranis' ties to the Shah's regime, and the Behranis harbor resentment towards privileged, white Americans.  Second, every main character makes a mess of their personal relationships through poor communication and allowing their egos to get in the way.   

This ominous, tense, and gritty novel reads like a Shakespearean tragedy.  While there are many opportunities for the characters to improve their situation, they repeatedly fail to do so.  Each character's flaws are glaringly obvious, and none of them are particularly likeable.  As the reader, this made me distance myself emotionally from the plot, remaining on the sidelines watching the characters careen towards the inevitable disaster.  This book is well-written but I tend to prefer novels where I can be more emotionally committed to the outcome.  ( )


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 25th, 2008 04:49 pm (UTC)
I hope my feelings about the ending didn't taint this book for you. I totally agree with your assessment. Reading about people whose lives unravel so drastically (and preventably) is hard. This was one of those books I wanted to throw across the room upon completion - and not in a good way! =)
Mar. 26th, 2008 05:09 am (UTC)
You echoed my sentiments exactly. :-)
Mar. 27th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
I've seen the movie, but am on the fence about reading the book. I wonder if the book and movie have the same ending? If they do, this one might stay off my TBR list.

Mar. 29th, 2008 10:21 am (UTC)
Well Alisia, if the book and movie have the same ending I won't be watching the movie either!
And I have a sinking feeling that they do ...
Mar. 27th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
I totally agree. The book's quality of writing is great, but the characters and their inability to compromise even the slightest bit made this book one of my most frustrating reads ever.

- Megan (http://leafingthroughlife.blogspot.com)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )