Sign up for our free newsletter
If you’re trying to make a statement about moral extremes in modern America, filling a novel with terrorists and pole dancers isn’t a bad way to stay on message. A number of 9/11 highjackers visited strip clubs during their brief tenure in the United States, a detail that Andre Dubus III uses as inspiration for his third novel, The Garden of Last Days. Set in Florida just before the attacks, the novel roots inside the head of numerous characters, mainly Bassam, a jihadist who can’t resist the Champagne room, and April, a stripper whose toddler goes missing during her shift. The brief chapters and Airport-style shifts in perspective make the novel feel like a breezy beach read, but the characterizations are strong throughout—excepting the illiterate bouncer who keeps a book-on-tape of The Waste Land in his glove box, Dubus’ cast is convincingly drawn and rich with emotional detail. Dubus III discusses and signs copies of his work at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919.