House of Sand and Fog Author:Andre Dubus III "Elegant and powerful...an unusual and volatile...literary thriller." --Washington Post Book World — In this riveting novel of almost unbearable suspense, three fragile yet determined people become dangerously entangled in a relentlessly escalating crisis. Colonel Behrani, once a wealthy man in Iran, is now a struggling immigrant willing ... more »to bet everything he has to restore his family's dignity. Kathy Niccolo is a recovering alcoholic and addict whose house is all she has left, and who refuses to let her hard-won stability slip away from her. Sheriff Lester Burdon, a married man who finds himself falling in love with Kathy, becomes obsessed with helping her fight for justice.
Drawn by their competing desires to the same small house in the California hills--and what it represents to each of them--and doomed by their tragic inability to understand one another, the three converge on an explosive collision course. Combining unadorned realism with profound empathy, House of Sand and Fog is a devastating exploration of the American Dream gone awry.« less
Very well done but very depressing. A man even stopped me on the beach when he saw what I was reading and commented on how depressing it was and was curious as to how I was handling it. It took me forever to read because I needed to take breaks every now and then and re-group.
I can't remember the last time I read such an explosive, unnerving story. House of Sand and Fog is everything a dramatic, suspenseful, culture-clash novel should be. I was intrigued and frightened, my emotions going through the wringer a countless number of times. My loyalties went from one character to another then back again through the course of the novel, never really deciding who to love or who to trust. A dark, drastic tragedy of a drama that unfolds in the most terrifying way.
Through an administrative error of the County Tax Department, Kathy Nicolo's house is seized out from under her. On top of this, her husband has left her and she has no one to turn to. Forced to live in her car and rented motel rooms, Kathy befriends one of the Sheriffs that came to evict her. Deputy Sheriff Lester Burdon finds himself in love and completely infatuated with helping Kathy get her house back. Meanwhile, Iranian immigrant Colonel Massoud Behrani is desperate to pursue his version of the American Dream: to acquire the dignity, status and respect he once entertained as Officer in the King's Airforce in his native country and to provide for his family and secure a healthy future for them. His desires come in the form of a house, an investment opportunity recently seized and up for auction at an unheard of low price. These two incidents run parallel courses that eventually collide into an explosive downward spiral.
Andre Dubus has written an electrifying, hair-standing-on-end, riveting book that only builds more tense as readers turn its pages. A fascinating and thought-provoking novel that shows how one simple thing can escalate into something huge and horrible through others irresponsibility and stubbornness. Reading parts of this book was akin to a dreamworld, a fog if you will, that will send readers into a panic, struggling for air. The writing evokes many opinions and emotions and will undoubtedly inspire numerous heated discussions. Masterfully told with poetically bold language that breathe with life. Awesome.
I usually think Oprah's book club choices are boreing and tend to drag on, but I thought this book was a great read. It is a few different stories that tie together keeping it interesting and making you want to read more.
Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2012/03/house-of-sand-and-fog.html
House of Sand and Fog is indeed the story of a house and the two sets of people who both feel that it is rightfully theirs. The Behranis are a family displaced from their homeland of Iran due to revolution. To them, this house is a last chance to restore some dignity to their lives. Kathy Lazaro is a recovering alcoholic and addict. To her, this house is her last refuge. The house is confiscated from Kathy Lazaro for tax purposes. The Behranis purchase it at auction. The rest of the book is the story of struggle between the two, leading to a dramatic and sad conclusion.
House of Sand and Fog is one of the most depressing books I have read in a long time. All 365 pages of it. There is the longing of the Behrani family for a life long gone and a homeland no longer open to them. It is their struggle to understand a new place and to create a new life for themselves. It is their sad attempt to maintain appearances of their past successes and position in life.
Then, there is Kathy Lazaro. She struggles with her recovery from alcoholism and addiction. She has left her home and family to build a new life with her husband in California. Her husband deserts her. So, she too struggles with finding a new place and creating a new life. She too attempts to maintain the appearances of her happy, married life to her family back home.
Thrown into this mix is Lester Burton. He is a police officer who gets involved with Kathy Lazaro. He proceeds down a path that leads them all to a catastrophic result.
The characters in this book are realistic. The emotions they feel and the situations they find themselves in also ring true. Unfortunately, the overwhelming sadness of this book makes it very difficult to read. In addition, the writing style is one based on long paragraphs and long descriptions. That too makes the book difficult to read. I found myself reading steadily for a while, then skimming through a portion of the book, and then reading the ending. Even so, I was left with an overwhelming depressing feeling and a need to step away from the story.
Ever hear of sin being a slippery slope? This book is a perfect character study of the extremes normal people can go to when faced with life-changing situations. One bad decision leads to another...and another...and before you know it, you've done things you would never have believed your integrity would allow. I enjoyed this book very much. I would have preferred less graphic sex, but I've gotten good at skipping over that stuff. The story was wonderfully heart-wrenching. I'm a little disappointed at the ending, but I wouldn't let that stop me from reading it.