156 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
Beth reviewed The House of Sand and Fog (Vintage Contemporaries) on
Helpful Score: 8
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 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.
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.
From Oprah's bookclulb, and a National Book Award Finalist, House of Sand and Fog is one of my all time favorite reads. It is filled with suspense that is almost unbearable at times. The disconnected charachters become intertwined in such a crisis that escalates from chapter to chapter...it is hard to understand how their crisis can every be defused. I love books that focus on immigrant stories...making this one of my favorites.
An ending that will leave you amazed. Intense, touching and enlightening. A wonderful synopsis of life and those around us, including those who come to America to find freedom and perhaps find a lot less.
This was an amazing book. It was gritty and extremely depressing, but unbelievably well-written. The first 20 or 30 pages were very hard to get thru, so boring that I almost put it down, but I'm glad I stuck with it. This is definitely one that has made an impression.
Joan B. reviewed The House of Sand and Fog (Vintage Contemporaries) on
Helpful Score: 2
What an amazing, thrilling, gripping, shocking, truly tragic tale Andre Dubus III has written here. Even though from almost the beginning of the book, you know things will not turn out well, you cannot turn away from this story of four tragic adults and one innocent child caught up in lives of lies, need, loss, pride, and broken dreams. I cannot recommend this book too highly.
This is simply an amazing book! One of the best of the thousands of books I've read over many, many years. BTW. if you live in Northern California (or are interested in it) it's a must read for you too. Set on the coast of No. CA near San Francisco.
I started reading this book and literally could not put it down. The story is grips you from the very beginning. This novel is an intense emotional rollercoaster that left me feeling as though I had lost a loved one.
This is a gripping page turner of a book and it's beautifully written. I would rate it higher if it hadn't left me feeling frustrated at the characters who stubbornly keep making one mistake after another. Can't say more without giving away plot points. Worth reading for the writing and the insight into the human psyche.
I saw the movie first and loved it. After several months, I saw the book for sale and picked it up. Like most novels, the book is better than the movie, but nothing from the book is really left out of the movie. The descriptions are far more vivid in the book and we receive more explanation to why the main characters are where they are in the world. Riveting and suspenseful, a tale of how good people wind up, unintentionally, in tragic circumstances, colliding head-on with others they encounter. The reader's empathy can easily switch from character to character, with each turning page.
A very thought-provoking read, with glimpses of cultural differences and gut-wrenching choices that often makes one wonder what one would do in similar situations.
This book is so well written and evokes a tremendous amount of passion from the reader. The overlap of their characters and their joint "death spiral" in life draws you in. A real page turner and hey...not every story in life has a happy ending.
My favorite novel, no contest. I was so amazed by this book that I thought of it constantly for a least a month after finishing reading it. You will literally never forget this story, no matter what. While it can be depressing, it's real and it touches you at your core.
Beautiful and tragic...
This book haunted me for weeks. While race and class may be a huge theme throughout the book, I think the sentimentality is what is most powerful. It's a long, overwhelmingly descriptive read at times, but I think that helped the movie to be so accurate. Yes I also enjoyed the movie (which I wasn't expecting). Sir Ben Kingsley does an extrodinary job of bringing this character to life. This is the kids of story that has you wondering who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist. Your mind will be changed over and over, but in the end, you'll feel for them both. That is a talent this author has become genius in executing.
This book was a little hard to follow at first but it turned out to be a very good book. I was a little thrown off by the little phrases used in a different language with no real explanation of what it meant. It was a great book and the movie was quite good as well.
A disturbing book about a young woman's world spun out of control when she loses her house and an Iranian immigrant struggling to find the American dream he feels entitled to. Both characters are simultaneously sympathetic and pathetic as they battle for the stability represented by a house in a small Californian town.
I saw this movie a few years ago and thought that Kathy was such an idiot. I was hoping to feel more compassion by reading the book and getting the full story. Conclusion: Kathy is an idiot. The book is well-written but I just couldn't care about what happened to these characters in the end.
A book that is unfailingly realistic in its portrayals of human behavior, however unfortunate that behavior can be, "House of Sand and Fog" is a wonderful examination of culture-clash and the importance of doing what is right. Although the plot at first seems somewhat small - a woman clashes over the foreclosure and subsequent reselling of her home with both the new, foreign inhabitants and the local government - the book quickly dives into full-out drama, with the honestly-written people on both sides of the argument finding it difficult - and sometimes impossible - to work through their situation. A great novel that reveals uncomfortable truths, all wrapped up in an entertaining and ultimately tragic wrapping.
This is a wonderful read, but have your box of tissues handy.... You are torn between the characters; you can easily see the "rightness" of each person. Who do you root for? You don't know, you can't decide, you feel for each of the characters, and wish you could fix their problems. But you can't.
Great story! Through the whole thing, I just wanted to yell at everyone to just stop... you could just watch both sides spinning out of control!. The author does a great job of building empathy for both sides of the conflict.
Oprah's Book Club: In this riveting novel of almost unbearable suspense, 3 fragile yet determined people become dangerously entangled in a relentlessly escalating crisis. Drawn by their competing desires to the same small house in the California hills and doomed by their tragic inability to understand one another, the 3 converge in an explosive collision course.
I couldn't put this book down -- an amazing story of how seemingly random lives, cultures and events intersect and then suddenly become an out of control spiral. Sad, yes, but so well written. I had to take some breaks because it was intense -- but well worth the read.
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.
From the publisher: "In riveting novel of almost unbearable suspense, three fragile yet determined people becom dangerously entangled in a relentlessly escalating crisis. Colonel Behrani, once a wealthy man in Iran, is now a struggling immigrant willing to bet everything he has to restore his family's dignity. Kathy Nicolo is a troubled young woman 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 doomed by their tragic inability to understand one another, the three converge in an explosive collision course. Combining unadorned realism with profound empathy, House of Sand and Fog marks the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction."
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.
I found this to be plausible and therefore very disturbing to think how small actions and different view points can lead people to places that no one would expect themselves to go. This book has stayed with me and I think about its very well delivered lesson. It was well developed and kept me very interested without my mind wandering as I listened to it.
Julie D. reviewed The House of Sand and Fog (Vintage Contemporaries) on
This story stayed with me long after I read the book. I found that I could not root for one character over another as their troubles were just one huge misunderstanding that escalated into tragedy. This one will not make you feel good but it will make you feel.
catsandroses reviewed The House of Sand and Fog (Vintage Contemporaries) on
Loved the writing, a really tremendous read. Felt myself sympathizing with all the characters, seeing the story from both sides. But HATED the ending!! (I know life doesn't always have happy endings, but certainly could have been wrapped up much more pleasantly than it was!)
This was a book club discussion book some time back which I really enjoyed because
there were many layers of meaning and differences in interpretations of the characters involved and their rights and responsibilities, as well as their moral integrity (or lack thereof). I thought if beautifully written as well.
I found this very depressing to the point I had to ask myself why I was even reading it. I kept thinking maybe I was missing the point as it is supposed to be such a popular book. I guess I never did get the point and yes I did finish the book, but it was time I now wish I had used for something else. The book on a whole just seemed like a waste of words on pages-why spend time reading something that left me so depressed. I won't do it again.
Three people become entangled in a struggle for the same house. The troubled woman refuses to let go. The sheriff falls in love with her and becomes obsessed with helping her fight for justice. The immigrant is willing to do everything he can to obtain the house and they are doomed by their inability to understand each other which puts them on a collision course.
Wonderfully written story centering around a house - the woman from whom the county takes the house in error, the Iranian family who buys it, and the policeman who enforces the woman's eviction and becomes captivated by her. The characterizations are wonderful, the tension finely written and rushing towards a conclusion that seems ridiculous but inevitable. I found the book captivating.
The book was beautifully written--however, I didn't find any of the characters very likable, which made it hard to feel for them when things went wrong. Surprisingly, I preferred the movie to the book, because I felt that the actors did a better job of conveying both the strengths and flaws of the characters.
In the riveting novel of almost unbearable suspense, three fragile yet determined people became dangerously entangeled in a relentlessly escalating crisis. Colonel Behrani, once a welthy man in Iran, is now a struggling immigrant willing to bet everything he has to restore his family's dignity. Kathy Nicolo is a troubled young woman whose house is all she has left, and who refuses to let her hard won stability slip away from her. Sherriff Lester Burdon, a married man who finds himself falling in love with Kathy, becomes obsessed with helping her fight for justice.
This story had me in tears at times, it also had me Mad!
This is a very well written book, although incredibly sad. I found that I had sympathy for both of the main characters, who are in opposition to each other. The portrayal of the characters left me with much to think about.
compelling story of three individuals entangled in property dispute over small house that means so much more to these folks than a simple matter of property , excellent read - Oprah's book club selection
"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." amazon
This book was so beautifully written, so carefully constructed; if the reader is tempted to second guess why something happened, or someone behaved a certain way, the author has given you the information, already answered the question. It is a gradual, then accelerated decent to despair.
Kathy Nicolo is a recovering addict whose husband has left her and who is making her way in the straight world with her own cleaning business. When her house in the California hills is mistakenly seized by the county for back taxes and sold at public auction, she finds herself living out of her car and on the brink of desperation. Once a wealthy and powerful man in Iran and a colonel in the army under the Shah's rule, Behrani is now a struggling immigrant who hopes that he can sell the house for a large profit, so that he can once again provide his family with a lifestyle like the one they enjoyed in Iran. Emotions take precedence over ethics, logic, love and the law as their paths collide in a surprising and tragic conclusion.
I have not read this book but thought someone else might enjoy. From the back cover " In this riveting novel of almost unbearable suspense, three fragile yet determined people become dangerously entangled in a relentlessly escalating crisis.....a struggling immigrant...a troubled young woman....a married man...drawn by their competing desires to the same small house in the California hill..."
This books is a great reminder of why it is important for people in America to find a way to be educated at the college level, or at very least gain enough life experiences to convey enough patience, professionalism, maturity and wisdom to not impair ...more This books is a great reminder of why it is important for people in America to find a way to be educated at the college level, or at very least gain enough life experiences to convey enough patience, professionalism, maturity and wisdom to not impair the lives of others. I feel like it was also attempting to reveal a taste of what life might be like if government was not organized. How blame can get out of scope, and how a mistake can expand exponentially, until it explodes.
The annoying things about this book: #1-Sentence length. There were some unnecessarily long sentences. #2-Commercializing. I am pretty sure Coke/Coca Cola paid Dubus to write this book. #3-The ending. I felt like the last thirty pages could have been different in a large or small scale & the story would have not suffered. The story was fascinating and engrossing on its own, so for it to end so predictably was a letdown. To me, it was like putting explosions in an action movie. I think my generation is rarely shocked, so the attempt dates the book as much as someone who still might use a watch for a Rolodex. #4-Communication. This wasn't so much of an annoyance as it just was honest reporting on the times in which this book was written. The story would just not hold up these days. Modern people google things that confuse them and call their loved ones on cell phones when they can't find each other. I have to remember that even though a book like this is semi-modern, times have changed considerably. For one thing, the colonel would have likely gotten a cool mil for that house! My guess is that if there where horse and carriages & minimal government, the story would be easier to comprehend. #5-Sex. It was pointed out to me by another reviewer that sweaty uneven mustaches aren't a fantastically sexy thing to write about. Never mind the idea that wood will not burn if it is still green, Lester(Rhymes with Fester!) Burdon(probably not a mistake here either) was offensively pathetic. Hopefully reading about he and Kathy having sex was intended to make one squirm with disgust. That is the only way I can justify it's gratuity. It was lovely that they liked each other, and I really wanted everything to work out-but a name like that, sex scenes like those where obvious precursors to where this story might end.
I am sure there where a few more, but I am willing to look over them for what was a unique story.
[an Oprah Book Club Selection][From the back cover] 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 to bet everything he has to restore his family's dignity. Kathy Nicolo is a troubled young woman 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 doomed by their tragic inability to understand one another, the three converge in an explosive collision course.