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Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0060930479
ISBN-10: 0060930470
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The Underground Railroad
The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As a fiction writer and poet, Johnson is known for his surreal portraits of the dispossessed lurking at the fringes of American life: the drifters, the jobless, the junkies and midnight DJ's. In this collection of 11 essays, which brings together pieces written over a 20-year period, he prefers to look at how those same individuals band together to form a new, often threatening, identity. His America is peopled with Christian Bikers in Texas, Alaskan frontiersmen, hippies both young and old, and right-wing militia members, all striving to create a life apart from the values associated with the mainstream middle-class. In addition to the essays on America, Johnson expands his canvas to take in the revolutions wrought by the dispossessed of the third world, in such places as Liberia, Afghanistan and Somalia. He finds true believers at every crossroad, whether it's in God, government, guns or all three, and manages to assess the quality of their conviction by travelling among them. Though Johnson is always clearly present as a narrator, he often only refers to himself in the third person or as a separate character altogether. This unusual narrative style infuses many of the essays with an askew, out-of-body point of view, which, while taxing to his credibility as a reporter, adds sincerity to his plight as a human. As a journalist, Johnson searches for something beyond headlines and, at least in this collection, that makes for an intriguing and insightful investigation. (May)Forecast: Essay aficionados may appreciate the offbeat style and subject matter, and Johnson's name recognition should attract loyal readers, but the book could be difficult to categorize and sell to those not already in the know.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Is Denis Johnson braver, more reckless, or just more foolish than most of those who pretend to the title "journalist"? It doesn't matter, in the end - he is willing to place his lonesome ass in the way of seriously bad and scary stuff, and then bring back the tale told better than it's ever been told before' - Esquire --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (March 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060930470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060930479
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #617,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on August 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Denis Johnson is that rare and wonderful thing: a lyrical writer with a brain. This is a collection of non-fiction essays he has published over the last 20 years, and it should win him many new fans who aren't familiar with his acclaimed fiction and poetry. The title, "Seek", is well chosen. Johnson presents himself as a seeker after truth, both physical and metaphysical. He brings with him an open mind, an open heart and genuine humility. "The Civil War in Hell" shows his visit to the heart of darkness of the Liberian civil war, where he views along with other journalists a videotape of the torture of the nations former dictator. The funny "Down Hard Six Times", an account of his honeymoon/gold-prospecting trip to Alaska is both a cautionary tale and a celebration of wilderness. The amazing "Hippies" is an exorciating satire of a drug-addled gathering of aging flower-children over Independence Day. He writes an amazinglyly sympathetic account of a Kenneth Copeland "Bikers for Jesus" rally: Johnson, who defines himself as a Christian, finds genuine religiosity among the weirdness. "Three Deserts" has some of the best writing about the American west I have ever encountered (Johnson lives full-time in northern Idaho.) The high point of the book for me is the stunning "The Militia in Me." Here Johnson gets past the hysteria about "right-wing militias" and, without minimizing their anti-semitism and extremism, sees them as within the well-established tradition of American anti-government, pro-freedom orneriness. In many ways, the West really is a different country and Johnson is well-aware of this, more so than many a provincial Eastern writer. This is a terrific book. Buy it immediately.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love D Johnson but only liked this book. What he says is great, always, his style amazing, but I thought he could have used a lot more editing, (which he gets a lot of in his fiction.) The Liberia piece is overlong, so is the Somalia one. But you get D Johnson reacting to..life.. and that's pretty priceless. It's like listening to your crazy uncle who's had a few too many...a treat.
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Format: Hardcover
After the slightness of THE NAME OF THE WORLD, and the somewhat scattered ALREADY DEAD, Johnson returns to the form that made JESUS' SON such a classic in this collection of articles. The standout is hands-down the last piece on his f**cked-up experiences in Liberia. Also good are the glimpses you get into Johnson's personal life, including his marriage and subsequent honeymoon in the wilds of Alaska, where they try to pan for the gold from which they plan to fashion their wedding rings; the highly disorganized hippie festival he goes to; the bikers for Jesus; his short piece on his brief stint as a Boy Scout. If you're already a Johnson fan, SEEK is cause for celebration.
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By 8888maj on October 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
a book of stories that I could thoroughly enjoy as I had stopped reading short stories
each one is an adventure because the topics are all new
reading Denis Johnson is something that I have done, quit and then w/this series of stories, will definitely start reading him again
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Format: Hardcover
Who could resist writing that sounds like a combination of Hunter S. Thompson and Julian Barnes? These stories delight but also provoke. ... the writing is always snappy: there are no excess words.
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By Derek Reyes on September 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It really makes you think about the state of the world and what freedom really means. Don't forget it is only a word. I
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This book opens your eyes to issues that people will not talk about. Cultures,civilizations and morals can change in a blink of an eye even where you live.
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