In this black comedy of Wagnerian proportions, Nelson Fairchild, a wealthy Californian, is also a professional marijuana farmer with strong ties to the counterculture. Fairchild meets his nemesis in Carl Van Ness, a psychotic drifter obsessed with Nietzsche. Fairchild has it all, and Van Ness is going to take it from him. In a moral sense, Van Ness is "already dead"; his soul has left his body, and a demon has moved in. Johnson's first work of fiction since Jesus' Son (LJ 11/1/92) covers the same territory as T.C. Boyle's horticultural classic Budding Prospects (LJ 4/15/84), but this is a much darker and more disturbing work. The pace is excruciatingly slow, the structure sloppy, and the huge cast of weirdos unwieldy, but Johnson's druggy prose is simply gorgeous. This work will do little to change his reputation as a cult novelist, but Johnson's fans will recognize the book as a worthy successor to Angels (LJ 8/83), his astonishing debut novel. Recommended for most serious fiction collections.?Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch., Los Angeles
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Johnson's northern California is a gothic land peopled by the emotionally damaged, the walking wounded, veterans of wars and drugs and drug deals gone bad; it is a coast inhabited by real spirits and lost souls, madmen and hitmen. With his noir premise--a pot grower hires a drifter to murder his wife--poet and novelist Johnson weaves an intricate tale of the intertwined lives of more than a dozen denizens of Mendocino County, California. Shifting perspectives and jumps in chronology contribute to a hallucinatory narrative that parallels the borderline psychoses of a majority of the book's characters. Johnson's strengths lie in his lyrical descriptions of the Pacific Coast and the surprising depth he evokes in his character development. Nelson Fairchild Jr., whose first-person narration is the centerpiece of Already Dead, is a Nietzche-quoting paranoid, a grower of marijuana who really is being hounded by a couple of hired guns. Fairchild enlists the assistance of his partner, Clarence, for protection, while Navarro, a displaced cop, finds himself caught up in the insanity brought on by Fairchild's misdeeds. Throughout, the omnipresent scent of violence grows more and more pungent. Reminiscent of the work of Robert Stone and Jim Harrison. Benjamin Segedin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
One of the 20 best books I have ever read/ dark,funny at times, spot on.Published 5 days ago by john w- nyc
Very disappointed by this book, considering the author's reputation. Several of the principal characters, including the main one, are totally insane. Read morePublished 1 month ago by T. Benhari
Haven't read it yet, but the price was right for this author and my wallet. His "Train Dreams" I read before Christmas was excellent.Published 4 months ago by Randy Rice
I loved Denis Johnson's 'Tree of Smoke' and am completely in awe of his abstract ability to describe the surroundings and composer of a given geographic area. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Michael Lieberman
I too was stunned at some of the negative, dismissive reviews of this modern classic. I believe those readers were looking for crime fiction, perhaps something like Elmore Leonard,... Read morePublished on July 7, 2013 by Jacktavish
If you're not even remotely into Dennis Johnson's fiction in general, I doubt that this book would change your mind. Read morePublished on December 31, 2012 by Nuri K
there is a lot to like in this novel but not enough to recommend it without reservation. many passages are great while some others fall flat. Read morePublished on February 17, 2010 by george b.