October 03, 2009

Review: House of Sand and Fog

House of Sand and Fog
by Andre Dubus III

You know when you're watching a movie and the bad guy is just the creepiest bad guy ever and you don't even want to watch the movie anymore because he creeps you out so much? (reference: Little Dorrit) And then someone always says that that's a sign of really great acting? Well, if the same is true for books then Dubus is a friggin' genius because the writing was so good that I wanted to put the book down the whole way through. Seriously folks, if Oprah endorses it then it's bound to be amongst the most depressingly soul-sucking novels ever written.

Due to a clerical error Kathy Nicolo is given minutes to move out of her childhood home, the house her father willed to her. The very next day Colonel Behrani buys it at auction for a third of it's value with plans to flip it for a profit. The Colonel was once a well respected and rich military officer in Iran until he fled to America to avoid execution. Now he is trying to regain some of the self-respect that he lost. Kathy is an ex-coke addict whose husband just deserted her. Along for the ride is Officer Lester Burdon who falls for Kathy, to his family's detriment, and will go to any length to get her her house back.

Of course, the inevitable is looming in the distance; a clash of pride and passion. The proverbial train wreck. No matter which way the pendulum swings it cannot be good. Except somehow the pace of the book got stuck on extra slow-mo. In 365 pages only about 20 of them have any action; at least, any action that made me want to stay awake to find out what happened next. Then the what-happened-next was particularly unsatisfying.

Gosh, it sounds a whole lot like another Oprah pick I dredged through once by the name of Vinegar Hill. I was more and more horrified by the idiocy of the characters and their penchant for making matters worse with each passing minute.

Clearly I hated the thing. I've heard the movie is true to the book in regards to the state it leaves the viewer in. Though I love Ben Kingsley (Love. Him.) I will give this one a pass.

One Word Review:

BTW, I originally chose this title for the RIP4 Challenge but there was nothing in it of any creepiness (unless you count that adulterous CREEP Officer Burdon) so I'll have to find a replacement if I want to complete my Peril the Second. At least it will give me credit in the Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge so it's not a total loss.


Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I remember reading this one a few years ago and hating it. Figures, eh?

Peter S. said...

Hi, Petunia! I came across your blog via C.B. You have such wonderful reviews.

I see that you're reading The Ghost Writer. How are you liking it so far? I read it last year and I enjoyed it. Creepy in a not so in-your-face way.

Jeane said...

O dear. I remember attempting to read Vinegar Hill and finding it awfully dull, didn't finish. This one has been sitting on my shelf forever and I keep thinking I ought to try it, but haven't felt compelled to yet.

Zibilee said...

I hated this book and couldn't relate to any of the characters. I also felt that it was very slow in sections as well. I tend to avoid Oprah books, as they are mostly terribly depressing and distressing. Have you read Songs In Ordinary Time? I think that book proves my point exactly.

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I'm so sorry you hated it! I personally really liked this book but I do agree that Oprah's picks tend to be very sad books, almost all of them in fact.