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Jesus' Son: Stories (Picador Modern Classics, 3) Paperback – February 17, 2009
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“Reading these stories is like reading ticker tape from the subconscious.” ―The Nation
“A work of spare beauty and almost religious intensity.” ―Entertainment Weekly
“Intense, vicious, and beautiful, these stories are fraught with a cutting wit purposefully juxtaposed against the too-big sentimentality of a drunk. Denis Johnson is an exquisite writer.” ―Mary Gaitskill
“[Dennis Johnson is] a synthesizer of profoundly American voices: we can hear Twain in his biting irony, Whitman in his erotic excess, not a little of Dashiell Hammett too in the hard sentences he throws back at his gouged, wounded world. And behind all these you sense something else: a visionary angel, a Kerouac, or, better yet, a Blake, who has seen his demon and yearned for God and forged a language to contain them both.” ―Newsday
“Ferocious intensity. . . . No American novelist since William Burroughs has so flagrantly risked 'insensitivity' in an effort to depict the pathology of addiction.” ―The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
- ASIN : 031242874X
- Publisher : Picador; First edition (February 17, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 133 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780312428747
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312428747
- Item Weight : 4.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.61 x 0.4 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #22,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The writing is poetic at times, gusting out in sentences too beautiful for the reality they describe. The language shows the world the unnamed main character experiences through the filter of his drug-altered state, instead of describing the affects of the various drugs themselves. The focus is not on the alteration but the reality, or seeming reality, of the alternatives the substances cause him to create. It may not be real, but this garbled, sideways perception is true to the main character. He describes it as he knew it, and he does not attempt to explain or excuse the impossible or the horrible. He shows himself honestly, in his lowest moments and his highest (pun intended). He never blames the drugs for his actions, or acknowledges their part. He is seen drinking, but he never says the drink had made such and such appear like so. After all, he is the one who took the drink, the drugs. This honesty with what the main character experienced allows the reader to go more deeply into the story, to embody the events without the distracting constant reminders of how warped they are.
This book is not a novel. It shows drug-filtered perception without emphasizing the drug part, a unique spin. The writing is great, but in the end it only hints of the possibility of growing to something larger. I rate this book 6/10.
Johnson tells these tales with shockingly little hyperbole in the sometimes distasteful mindset of the narrator. The ability to bring to the surface strong reaction in the reader. These stories are ones entirely unfamiliar to the lucky and painfully familiar to some. The kind of stories no one wants to tell from a first person perspective but rather to say "did you see on the news..." or "I heard about a guy..." But are those not the stories that America loves. The dark corners and shady characters looming therein set the scenes here. But there are no crypts, no monsters. Just your local nursing home, drive-in, and hospital. Just that loud neighbor, the quiet guy at the end of the bar, or your odd friend. Johnson paints a great scene without dehumanizing the characters or packing in unnecessary detail making for a interesting read.
I am a great fan of "alternative" literature and still revere Allen Ginsberg as one of the poetry greats, but I've tried to read "On The Road' five or six times during my life and cannot finish it because it always puts me to sleep. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why this work of Kerouac continues to elude me.
I read the raves about this work on many websites but it just didn't speak to me. Obviously, I'm in the minority with my opinion and I don't pretend to be an expert on literary matters, but as much as I wanted it to work for me, this book mostly put me to sleep.
Top reviews from other countries
Author of 'Cycles of Udaipur'
These editions are compact hardback books - smaller than the average paperback. The print may be too small for some, but I haven't struggled with reading it; and due to the size of these editions, they are easy to carry and read anywhere.
I felt like I was inside the actual dreams of Dennis Johnson that he’d turned into short stories. The stream of consciousness aspect made them sometimes hard to follow but the glittering moments were worth it. The “flatness of the door” when the naked lady left the bathroom. The dash sounded “like a machine polishing rocks through the night”. But for a good representative snippet...
“I’m sure we were all feeling blessed on this ferryboat among the humps of very green—in the sunlight almost coolly burning, like phosphorus—islands, and the water of inlets winking in the sincere light of day, under a sky as blue and brainless as the love of God, despite the smell, the slight, dreamy suffocation, of some kind of petroleum-based compound used to seal the deck’s seams.”
As for the delivery, it was as reliable as ever. The book arrived quickly and in perfect condition.