House Of Sand And Fog by Andre Dubus III

Mike’s review

Full disclosure: this is being re-used from an old project. I took longer to read this week’s book than expected. Rearranged work schedules are hard to habituate.


Before anything else, this guy looks like Patrick Swayze 80’s style. This is important because I’m pretty sure this takes place in some simplistic backwards Dirty Dancing world where everyone’s out to do the worst to themselves and everyone else.


Is the Persian’s language racist? People think in clear thoughts, not stunted English.

But, I prefer it to Mrs. Lazaro’s inner voice to the reader (I can’t believe I don’t know the word for this). It’s kinda poetic and flowery, you know, like a woman. And I bet a white man speaks in concise, clear sentences. And black men have lots of contractions. This is lazy and pandering and kinda prejudiced. I mean, what the fuck is a “quiet profile?” “I started to blow-dry my hair, which had grown out past my shoulders the way it hadn’t been since I was nineteen and married to Donnie, my first cokestorm, my period late, and we both told ourselves we weren’t ready and he drove me to the clinic in Brookline and the whole family found out. Dad had never really looked right at me anyway, but then he stopped doing it at all, would only give me his quiet profile, usually in his recliner in front of the TV.”

That being said, I appreciate that these are normally unheard-from characters. Well-educated foreigner stuck in dead-end jobs because of the American system and working class in the Bay (though it doesn’t focus on how fucking poor this actually makes her before the shit goes down).


Do all Persian husband and wife have separate rooms? Cuz Dubus doesn’t really mention that this is unusual or unwanted. Isn’t this house in San Mateo supposed to be small ($45,000 even at auction is fucking impossible)? How is it three bedrooms?


If there’s not a sex scene from the man’s point of view…


Why do we instantly sexualize the woman? Seriously. Oh, Kathy’s masturbating, it’s so empowering… But you’re still sexualizing her while in the other story the man is out being manly (and not looking for sex from his wife because she’s frigid I suspect). I mean, she’s wet as soon as the video starts reeling (nothing yet onscreen) even though she rarely jerks it? And then she gets all emotional about her husband (who’s left her) and gets pissy with the tape for no good reason? Shit… Fucking man-ass bullshit.

And then BAM! his wife wants to do him for “the third time in the years we have lived in America.” So women are either frigid or emotional and stupid. I know I do it too, but it bugs me when women are so poorly written.


Why is everyone so fucking crazy/stubborn? No one can roll into their fall. Nothing that bad has happened to anyone here.


Poor-ass fools don’t hibachi grill mushroom burgers.


“like most addicts, he had the worst fear of all, that his dreams would actually come true.” Ok, this is getting a little unnerving. Most of the addict generalizations hit me, which was uncomfortable to say the least.


“low-rent beach town” This guy’s simultaneous knowledge of the Bay Area/complete lack of knowledge baffles me.


This is, in a lot of ways about gender roles, but it’s very much a reinforcement of the quo. “No threats. No men shoving their weight around. Just two women talking out our problem.” Kathy falls apart the instant her husband leaves; not even a whole person. Never strong enough to stand up to Nick; think she just went along with his Recovery. Behrani’s wife isn’t even really a person, has no idea what the world is; she’s just there to buy pretty/expensive things and be exquisite.


Banks close early on Wednesday? What year is it? What’s with all the smoking inside?


Really, she still wants Lester after he’s killed a family and her too almost? This book is a long string of people choosing to fuck up their lives for no good reason. “Oh, sometimes love is too strong and it blinds us.” Fuck you. This relationship was too long and too fucked for this. People died. That’s a fucking wakeup call. Fuck everyone in this book.


Really? National Book Award Finalist? I mean, I’ve read worse, but come on. What was so fucking great here?


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