When good people aren’t.


I just read House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III.  I had picked the book up with a fair amount of interest, even though a friend of mine “hated” the book.  I realized somewhere in the first 100 pages that the book had been made into a movie…a major disappointment to me as I typically avoid books that eventually become movies.

The book is set in the California Bay Area, so it was particularly interesting to me.  I recognized several of the locations in the novel and it was entertaining to read about places I’ve been.  The book centers on two main characters who both have a claim to the same house.  The house is the mechanism that the author uses to introduce conflict, as both characters fight for this house emotionally and physically.  Essentially, the fight leads two decent people into a warren of questionable actions, finally coming to a grandiose crescendo at the end that is reminiscent of Greek tragedies.  Indeed, the ending was a bit over the top…but it made it’s point.  Nobody can miss the lesson that sometimes people get in over their heads.

I have not seen the movie, nor do I want to.  I enjoyed the book on its merits, and I have yet to see a movie based on a book that lived up to the novel. 

My recommendation: pick it up at the library or borrow it from someone (a major bestseller and an Oprah pick–someone you know owns this book), but be prepared for a bit of a downer.  This story doesn’t uplift and it highlights many sad flaws in our human nature.  Not a “must-read,” but good nonetheless.

2 thoughts on “When good people aren’t.

  1. A really good read, I agree. To me, the most amazing thing about the novel was the author’s ability to get into the heads, the motivations and thoughts, of these two wildly disparate people. Neither of the main characters is anything like Mr. Dubus, who is this really nice, kind, handsome (I am told), white, New England guy.

    He sometimes teaches creative writing at the University where I work and I had him sign my copy. First time I’d ever had an author sign a book for me. Afterward I expected all authors to be genuine and to act as if they were interested in me as a person, because that’s how he seemed.

    I haven’t seen the movie. The book was terrifying enough for me.


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