an urgent request for ann - re: denis johnson.

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what have i read?

all of it.

why do i like denis johnson?

when he is on form he can capture the ennui of modern living of people who are saddled with problems which i see as recognisable: junkies, trash, grief, etc. like in jesus' son ,angel and name of the world.

other times he veers into the experimental which can succeed and fail with 'hangman' and 'already dead' - though i personally enjoyed the surreal black comedy of 'already dead' - people who read it on my recommendation mention what you've had - problem areas with johnson - re: total abandonment of structure mid-way through, no development and lack of editing.

but i think that is the failure of hangman and at times - jesus' son. i really enjoyed 'already dead' - it had this strange amped up/buster keaton sense of comedy running through it like a cocained quasi tragedy.

but then again maybe that is why i enjoy the johnson writing - he is, at times, able to capture america, as it is and as it wants to be. does that make sense?

so

griffin doome, Wednesday, 24 December 2003 20:45 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, well, as an audience member the fact that, like I said, the actors were great -- plus the theater had an open bar -- made his editing problems a lot easier to swallow. The actors, however... jesus, there were some people who showed up for ten minutes at the beginning of the play and sat backstage playing Monopoly for the rest of it. Not very considerate. I should try reading some of the print works to see whether reading it -- slogging through the structure yourself -- is as much fun as watching it.

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Thursday, 25 December 2003 00:08 (sixteen years ago) link

angels and jesus' son are near-perfect, in my opinion, and there's definitely brilliance in already dead even if it's kind of a trainwreck. i can't recall much of hanged man, except fot the line "and on his ass the sad assassin sat." read an anthology of his poetry last year which was very patchy, although again the best parts made up for slogging through pages and pages of wildy varying quality.

lauren (laurenp), Thursday, 25 December 2003 00:13 (sixteen years ago) link

The verbal humor is great... You know, I'm off to Amazon now, I'm betting some of these lines would play a lot better offstage, come to think of it... (lips smacking)

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Thursday, 25 December 2003 00:15 (sixteen years ago) link

I really loved all of his books except for the last one (the short one, the Name of the World, which was a little too Paul Auster for me). Already Dead was the first one I read and about halfway through, when it does abandon the structure it set up, I was really caught off guard, yes, but I have to say, so few books surprise me any more that I loved it. I can think of few modern writers who deal with characters as well as he does.

I am supremely bummed that I slacked on each part of this theater trilogy over the past three years since they all opened in San Francisco.

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Friday, 26 December 2003 16:11 (sixteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
I'm not sure I get it. : /

cºzen (Cozen), Wednesday, 18 August 2004 19:16 (fifteen years ago) link

ten years pass...

Train Dreams, which I just finished ten minutes ago, is wild and beautiful and unlike anything I've ever read.

In spite of its compelling and strange wildness and beauty It's still possible to take a step back and wonder "how is this being done?" In 116 widely spaced pages, how is it even possible that I can know Robert Grainier inside out and know the lives of people he came into contact with and think about geography and civilisation and progress and how to strip a tree and build a railway and bury a man and touch the unknowable spiritual darknesses of all of the many people in the novel. It's truly incredible. It has the strangest most exact ending. I'm so happy that I read this!

Acting Crazy (Instrumental) (jed_), Wednesday, 3 June 2015 02:38 (four years ago) link

one month passes...

just heard "emergency" on the new yorker short story podcast. read by tobias wolf. kind of incredible, i know one or two other stories but i will be reading more denis johnson now.

doing my Objectives, handling some intense stuff (LocalGarda), Sunday, 26 July 2015 15:54 (four years ago) link

checked this guy out due to Jed's post above and yeah Train Dreams is really good

sleeve, Sunday, 26 July 2015 16:32 (four years ago) link

I just finished Tree of Smoke and thought it was pretty fantastic

sonic thedgehod (albvivertine), Sunday, 26 July 2015 16:36 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

RIP :(

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Friday, 26 May 2017 07:50 (two years ago) link

ahh, shit - really liked this guy's writing

heck i've even been an 'oyster pirate' (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 26 May 2017 09:21 (two years ago) link

one of my favourites, poetry and his short fiction. jesus' son is a book you can keep coming back to.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Friday, 26 May 2017 10:07 (two years ago) link

Good stories of taking a workshop with him:

I was lucky to be in Denis Johnson's workshop at the Michener Center two years ago. He was an unorthodox and beloved teacher. Some memories:

— Kelly Luce (@lucekel) May 26, 2017

to pimp a barfly (Eazy), Saturday, 27 May 2017 18:44 (two years ago) link

friend posted his poem a monk's insomnia on fb, and the "but it's terror..." lines had me breathless:

The monastery is quiet. Seconal
drifts down upon it from the moon.
I can see the lights
of the city I came from,
can remember how a boy sets out
like something thrown from the furnace
of a star. In the conflagration of memory
my people sit on green benches in the park,
terrified, evil, broken by love—
to sit with them inside that invisible fire
of hours day after day while the shadow of the milk
billboard crawled across the street
seemed impossible, but how
was it different from here,
where they have one day they play over
and over as if they think
it is our favorite, and we stay
for our natural lives,
a phrase that conjures up the sun’s
dark ash adrift after ten billion years
of unconsolable burning? Brother Thomas’
schoolgirl obsession with the cheap
doings of TV starlets breaks
everybody’s heart, and the yellow sap
of one particular race of cactus grows
tragic for the fascination in which
it imprisons Brother Toby—I can’t witness
his slavering and relating how it can be changed
into some unprecedented kind of plastic—
and the monastery refuses
to say where it is taking us. At night
we hear the trainers from the base
down there, and see them blotting out the stars,
and I stand on the hill and listen, bone-white with desire.
It was love that sent me on the journey,
love that called me home. But it’s terror
of being just one person—one chance, one set of days—
that keeps me absolutely still and makes me listen
intently to those young men above us
flying in their airplanes in the dark.

Fizzles, Saturday, 27 May 2017 18:47 (two years ago) link

ty for posting ^
a great poet

schlump, Sunday, 28 May 2017 00:53 (two years ago) link

is TOS worth the read?

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 28 May 2017 00:56 (two years ago) link

i haven't ever read the whole thing but everything i know's great-

Surreptitious Kissing

I want to say that
forgiveness keeps on

dividing, that hope
gives issue to hope,

and more, but of course I
am saying what is

said when in this dark
hallway one encounters

you, and paws and
assaults you—love

affairs, fast lies—and you
say it back and we

blunder deeper, as would
any pair of loosed

marionettess, any couple
of cadavers cut lately

from the scaffold,
in the secluded hallways

of whatever is
holding us up now.

schlump, Sunday, 28 May 2017 01:07 (two years ago) link

that's beautiful, thx

flopson, Sunday, 28 May 2017 01:09 (two years ago) link

I like Tree of Smoke a lot. It isn't a particularly arduous read, so yeah I'd say it was worth it. RIP.

albvivertine, Sunday, 28 May 2017 01:43 (two years ago) link

three months pass...

https://www.92y.org/event/a-memorial-for-denis-johnson
october 2 - With Arthur Bradford, Kevin Corrigan, Billy Crudup, Michael Cunningham, Michael Cryer, Michael Dickman, Neal Huff, Emily McDonnell, Sam Messer, Deirdre O’Connell, Will Patton, Michael Shannon, J. Ryan Stradal and others

Chocolate-covered gummy bears? Not ruling those lil' guys out. (ulysses), Thursday, 14 September 2017 21:44 (two years ago) link

got a bunch of his short novels out from the library, looking forward to em (if i ever get a chance to read this semester)

flopson, Thursday, 14 September 2017 23:24 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

the rehab story in "Largesse Of The Sea Maiden" has totally destroyed me. amazing.

sleeve, Wednesday, 25 December 2019 13:49 (one month ago) link


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