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  1. #1
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    Nobody Move

    Is anyone excited about the upcoming release of Denis Johnson's new book?

    I'm looking forward to it because I love most of Johnson's work. I really enjoyed the first half of Tree of Smoke, but in the end, I found the book to be a disappointment.

    I'm glad to see this new book is rather short; I think Johnson excels with shorter works.


  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by orangedive View Post
    Is anyone excited about the upcoming release of Denis Johnson's new book?

    I'm looking forward to it because I love most of Johnson's work. I really enjoyed the first half of Tree of Smoke, but in the end, I found the book to be a disappointment.

    I'm glad to see this new book is rather short; I think Johnson excels with shorter works.
    I actually have a kind of "history" with Johnson - I wrote a long paper (80+ pages) on him in undergrad. I actually wrote him a letter about what I was doing and he called me at my parents' home (I was 20 and spending the summer working on a beer truck) from his home in Idaho and talked with me for a couple of hours. It was a seminal moment in my writing life. (I'd only just started writing myself, and took it as a sign.) This was 1993 - so Jesus' Son was relativley new, as was Resuscitation of a Hanged Man.

    I was more focused on his poetry, though: The Veil, Incognito Lounge and Inner Weather.

    Then, when I was at Iowa, he gave a reading and I got to throw the after-party. I mentioned, cryptically, our conversation. And he was like - "yeah, your Mom answered the phone, I remember." He's a strange, brilliant, amazing guy - ex-heroin addict, ex-alcoholic, ex-gambling addict. Now clean & sober & straight, and in possession of his own version of fundamentalist christianity.

    Which makes sense, what with all of his saints & sinners iconography.

    I think his novels are often radically flawed. But they're also capable of sheer briliance. He writes some of the most knee-buckling sentences I've ever read. And Jesus' Son is full of them.

    One last story: one of my teachers at Iowa went to the Workshop with him. He says that he remembers a conversation when they were standing on the porch of the building that houses the Workshop between he and Johnson and a another poet (who I won't name.) The other poet was going on at length about what he was reading - French theory, translations, obscure religious texts, poets that no one read, etc. My teacher turned to Johnson and said, "Denis, what are you reading?"

    Johnson replied: "I only read one book."
    My teacher asked: "What book is that?"
    Johnson: "Lowry. Under the Volcano."
    The other poet: "Well, what are your thoughts on it?"
    Johnson: "I don't know. I haven't finished it yet."

    Classic.

    Honestly, he's probably been one of the three most important writing figures in my own writing life. Even if my work no longer bears any resemblance to his.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky Jim View Post

    Johnson replied: "I only read one book."
    My teacher asked: "What book is that?"
    Johnson: "Lowry. Under the Volcano."
    The other poet: "Well, what are your thoughts on it?"
    Johnson: "I don't know. I haven't finished it yet."
    I have my guesses as to who the poets are in this exchange, but that's of little consequence. I'd just like to point that my writing career likely would've gone much better had I subscribed to Johnson's reading program.

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    I'm definitely looking forward to Nobody Move. Big Denis Johnson fan (I typed "Big Johnson fan" the first time, but that just didn't look right).

    I read The Name of the World just recently, and enjoyed it.

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