Saturday, April 17, 2010

Great Build-Up, Disappointing Finish

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (W.W. Norton & Co., 1999, 365pp.)

Massoud Behrani, a struggling Iranian immigrant in San Francisco, buys a foreclosed house at a county auction, planning later to sell it at a higher price, and thus cure his family’s financial woes. Kathy Nicolo, the house’s previous owner, has been wrongfully evicted from her home due to a bureaucratic mistake. Although she tries to explain the situation to Behrani, he is uncooperative, fearing he will face financial ruin if he does not manage to sell the home back for no less than four times what he originally paid. Both have valid arguments, but who exactly is in the right? Dubus probes the darker side of the American Dream in masterly form, alternating between Behrani’s and Kathy’s POVs in an exquisite example of multiple first person narration. The novel starts with a great build-up, but suffers from a disappointing finish as its interesting premise unravels with its frustrating and ridiculous ending.

Click on cover for image source.

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