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House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III

House of Sand and Fog

by Andre Dubus III

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,5971061,195 (3.74)153
  1. 00
    Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuściński (wookiebender)
    wookiebender: I read House of Sand and Fog several years before Shah of Shahs, but I would recommend reading them the other way around! Gave me some background information on Iran that filled in a few gaps in my knowledge.
  2. 00
    The Master Planets by Donald Gallinger (donitamblyn)
    donitamblyn: This newly-released novel is another story of the way lives can be deeply affected by forces we don't understand. In HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG, we see good people turned against each other because of events beyond their control, coupled with the (uninformed) judgments they make about each other. In THE MASTER PLANETS, we see an exuberant and talented kid in 1970s America -- a kid on the threshold of realizing his dream of making world-changing music -- being derailed by events that happened 30 years before in war-torn Poland. This kind of stuff is fascinating in showing how we are really all tied together across time, distance, and culture. I must say that I much prefer the ending to MASTER PLANETS, as it gives the hope of redemption. "There is more in heaven and earth...." Interestingly enough, it's also a truly rollicking read. I couldn't put it down.… (more)

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» See also 153 mentions

English (104)  Italian (1)  All languages (105)
Showing 1-5 of 104 (next | show all)
What to day about this book other than it was truly profound. House of Sand and Fog begins as a story of two people forced from their homes and forced to try to find their way in the world, all the while trying to not let go of the past. In the end neither can remake the past and lose all they had for the future. ( )
  p_r_a_x_i_s | Jun 11, 2019 |
Up next an uplifting book about a cop chasing a serial killer.

Seriously. Almost anything would be less bleak and tragic than this story. About a third of the way in you will realize that no one can come out of this situation well. No one.

It’s easy to sympathize with the Behrani family who came to the US when the Shah was deposed in Iran. He was a Colonel in the air force and thought it would be easy to get a job with Boeing or McDonnell Douglas here, but he didn’t. He’s been fooling the world with fake wealth for years in an effort to get their daughter married well. Now she has, dad quits his menial jobs (of which his whole family is ignorant) and invests their remaining savings in a foreclosed house. All well and good. Except that house was foreclosed on in error. A literal typo - wrong address. Still, the house is legally his and his whole future hinges on being able to sell it at a profit.

The former owner, Kathy, has little recourse except to sue the county. You’d think there’d be sympathy for her, too, but it’s her own fault. She willfully threw away county letters unopened. If she’d read at least one of them the entire disaster could have been avoided. Depressed that her husband left her, she can’t be bothered. She goes to legal aid to see what she can do now it’s gone too far and is delusional and pig-headed about her standing. It was really hard to feel bad for her at all.

Then there’s Lester. The deputy sheriff on hand for her eviction. He falls for her and systematically throws away his marriage, his kids, his job and finally his freedom for this woman. Sure, the sex is hot, but the fog doesn’t only obliterate the landscape, but possibly good sense as well. Both of them are so self-destructive and stupid that they deserve each other. It’s just so much sadder that they take everyone else down with them.

Fog is mentioned a lot in the novel and it is a lovely metaphor for everyone’s cloudy judgment and rationality. They’re all crazy and blinded by emotions and cultural misunderstandings. If it wasn’t so gut-wrenchingly awful it would be funny.

Dubus can write the paint off the walls though. The story is told with three main narratives - Kathy’s, Lester’s and the Colonel’s. Managing the variegated syntax of this last story was really perfect. I think he had help from folks who speak Farsi and he tweaked the sentence rhythms and structures just perfectly. By way of context you can tease out the meaning of many Farsi words and phrases peppered throughout. It really was a beautiful piece of writing even if the subject of that writing wasn’t always beautiful. ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | May 1, 2019 |
HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG, by Andre Dubus III, was a blockbuster bestseller nearly 20 years ago, and now that I've finally gotten around to reading it, I can see why. It's a story that begins slowly but quickly picks up momentum and then grabs you by the scruff of the neck and keeps you turning pages deep into the night because you simply HAVE to knw what happens next. I mean, WoW! This is simply one helluva good read.

The plot centers around three people. Kathy Lazaro is a thirty-six year old woman who is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, recently abandoned by her husband. She cleans houses to make ends meet and lives in a small house (the one of the title, inherited from her father) in a coastal village near San Francisco. Due to a clerical error re unpaid taxes, her house is seized by the county and auctioned for a very low price to one Massoud Behrani, a former Colonel in the Iranian Air Force who'd been forced to flee Iran at the time of the revolution there. Kathy is evicted from her home by a Deputy Sheriff, Lester Burdon, who, though married with two children, falls in love with Kathy. A tempestuous, ill-advised affair ensues, as Lester tries to help her get her house back. In the course of the narrative, which shifts from first-persons by both Kathy and Behrani, or an omniscient voice for Lester's portions, the reader gradually learns the history of all three characters, and watches with fascination and horror as things go from bad to worse, building to a climax that will leave you gasping and shaken. There are no absolute villains or heroes here, only people caught up in an unfortunate and tragic web of circumstances, fed by confusion, passion and greed.

But enough about the plot. The book has already garnered several hundred reviews at Amazon alone. Dubus is simply a master storyteller who knows how to ratchet up the suspense and demonstrates an uncanny knowledge of human nature, creating characters that are so real they could be living next door. And, even twenty years later, the story remains surprisingly relevant, although there is no mention of cell phones or the internet. Indeed, phone calls are often made from phone booths or public telephones. But here's a sample of HOUSE's continuing relevance, in a comment by Iranian, Colonel Behrani, about -

"... the face of Americans, the eyes that never appear satisfied, at peace with their work, or the day God has given them; these people have the eyes of very small children who are forever looking for their next source of distraction, entertainment, or a sweet taste in the mouth. And it is no longer to me a surprise that it is the recent immigrants who excel in this land, the Orientals, the Greeks, and yes, the Persians. We know rich opportunity when we see it."

Yeah, that "immigrant thing" - twenty years ago. Actually even further back, as this story likely takes place in the early 90s - the only clue to the era that I could find was that Behrani's 14 year-old son had been a babe in arms when he and his family fled Tehran at the time of the revolution, which was in 1979.

This was a fascinating, absorbing and absolutely compelling read, much deserving of its great success. My highest recommendation.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Feb 20, 2019 |
Review: House of Sand and Fog by Andre’ Dubus III.

The author’s writing style is exceptionally unique. Dubus’s imagery is powerful and descriptive. He captures the essence of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, and many other places with strong details and not overstuffed with to many adjectives or metaphors. The ending was a surprise for me. The story is based on an Iranian immigrant and a trouble woman competing for a California house which kept a stubborn conflict of both parties suspenseful until the ending.

There are four characters struggling to recover from harmful changes to their lives. Kathy Nicolo is a former addict fighting to rebuild her life after her husband leaves her. Plus, she is actually the owner of the house which someone in the city office made a mistake with the correct address and put it on the auction block. Than Massoud Amir Behrani who was a former colonel in the Iran military under the Shah now struggling to cope with life as a refugee immigrant who has lost his high status, wealth and power in the USA.

Mr. Behrani managed to save some money from his previous job in Iran and wanted to find his family a better place to live. He saw an ad about a house being sold by the city at a very low price. He also came up with a great idea about making triple the money by selling the house and maybe keep doing this. However, he had to tell his wife his plans which meant they would be moving place to place, she was against the idea but he already bought the auction house so they moved into the house and that is when all the conflict started.

The reason the house was empty was that Kathy Nicolo had her belongings stored at a storage outfit and hadn’t moved her stuff in yet while she was recovering from a drinking and drug situation. It just so happened she was planning to move in about the same time Mr. Behrani and his family did….Confusion, conflict, frustration, sadness and empathy issues progress… ( )
  Juan-banjo | Nov 18, 2018 |
When I was studying English for undergrad, I had to purchase an excessive number of copies of literature textbooks and anthologies. This was one of them but I loved it a little more than the others because it had to do with Irish lit.
  justagirlwithabook | Aug 1, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dubus III, Andreprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crepax, LucianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Beyond myself
I wait for my arrival
—From "The Balcony" by Octavio Paz
For my brother, Jeb, and for my four sisters, Suzanne, Nicole, Cadence, and Madeleine.

First words
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.
"Dat's what they say of this cauntry back home, Kath: 'America, the land of milk and honey.' Bot they never tell you the milk's gone sour and the honey's stolen."
"It's almost easier being down and alone than when you're up and no one's there to share the view with you."
"...wanting for just this moment to be them again, though I never had been in the first place. Not really. Not a girl with girlfriends. Now, twenty years later, I could be their mother. But I wasn't anyone's mother, or wife. I wasn't a real girlfriend to anybody, or a friend; I was barely a sister, and whenever I thought of myself as a daughter my body felt too small and filthy to live in."
"But he didn't want to get caught up in the vortex of "should have's." Regret was Fear's big sister, the one he believed should never be let in the door."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375727345, Paperback)

Oprah Book Club® Selection, November 2000: Andre Dubus III wastes no time in capturing the dark side of the immigrant experience in America at the end of the 20th century. House of Sand and Fog opens with a highway crew composed of several nationalities picking up litter on a hot California summer day. Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian military under the Shah, reflects on his job-search efforts since arriving in the U.S. four years before: "I have spent hundreds of dollars copying my credentials; I have worn my French suits and my Italian shoes to hand-deliver my qualifications; I have waited and then called back after the correct waiting time; but there is nothing." The father of two, Behrani has spent most of the money he brought with him from Iran on an apartment and furnishings that are too expensive, desperately trying to keep up appearances in order to enhance his daughter's chances of making a good marriage. Now the daughter is married, and on impulse he sinks his remaining funds into a house he buys at auction, thus unwittingly putting himself and his family on a trajectory to disaster. The house, it seems, once belonged to Kathy Nicolo, a self-destructive alcoholic who wants it back. What starts out as a legal tussle soon escalates into a personal confrontation--with dire results.

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. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:57 -0400)

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When a former colonel of the Iranian Air Force and his family purchase a small California home at auction, they are faced with a great conflict as the former owner and her police officer boyfriend fight to get it back at any cost.

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393046974, 0393338118

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