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House of Sand and Fog    by Andre Dubus order for
House of Sand and Fog
by Andre Dubus
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2000 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

James Lee Burke is quoted on the cover of this book stating that 'House of Sand and Fog is one of the best American novels I've ever read.' This third book by Andre Dubus III may well be a great American novel. It undoubtedly is engrossing and well-written.

The story is told from three points of view - a difficult task in itself, but well done by this author. The reader views the thought processes of each clearly defined character: house owner Kathy Lazaro, Persian immigrant Colonel Behrani, and Deputy Sheriff Lester Burdon. Kathy is unjustly evicted from her home for non-payment of taxes she did not owe. The Deputy Sheriff must remove Kathy from premises that are no longer legally hers. The Colonel buys Kathy's house at a Sheriff's Sale.

The stage is thus set for a disturbing sequence of events - disturbing because, although fiction, I felt the possibility of this scenario actually unfolding to be all too real. Kathy and Lester become adulterously involved while Colonel Behrani tries to keep his hold on the house. He sees it as his ticket to the riches he believes are his birthright, if only he stands his ground. The interaction between the major characters is sensitively written, even frighteningly so.

This is a dark tale, and one that will make the reader reflect on his or her own relationships. It is also one that will not slip from the mind when the book is finished and put down. Dubus is a talented storyteller, obviously a skilled student of human nature, and House of Sand and Fog is a book to read and to recommend.

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