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Jesus' Son: Stories by Denis Johnson

Jesus' Son: Stories (original 1992; edition 2009)

by Denis Johnson

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1,824403,831 (4.11)78
Title:Jesus' Son: Stories
Authors:Denis Johnson
Info:Picador (2009), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 144 pages
Collections:Your library

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Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson (1992)

  1. 00
    Starve the Vulture: A Memoir by Jason Carney (whitewavedarling)
    whitewavedarling: Starve the Vulture is a memoir, and far removed from Johnson's fiction, but if you can handle and appreciate the content and the humor of one of them, you'll be glad to have found the second.
  2. 00
    Between Nowhere and Happiness by Daniel Kine (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Like Jesus Son, Between Nowhere and Happiness follows a young artistic type through Heroin addiction and love.
  3. 02
    Palo Alto: Stories by James Franco (werdfert)

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» See also 78 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
The profusion of hype surrounding this book's publication was enough to avoid reading about it. Richard Hell talked about it recently, which reminded me to pick up a copy. Now delving into it and wondering what Lou Reed thought of the book and the author and all the dead bodies piled up in mounds.
  Fnarkle | Nov 12, 2015 |
Vignettes of a hollow man with a hollow vein in an even more hollow Midwestern landscape puking up the ashes of the American Dream alongside a cadre of irredeemable characters. All at once, surprisingly, a hilarious and devastating book with characters you pity ad struggle to perceive as human, even though you know they exist, somewhere. Half dream, half wreck, despite the prose which is always beautiful and always present. Some of the best American short fiction since O'Connor and Hemingway. ( )
1 vote poetontheone | Apr 12, 2015 |
One of those books that makes me want to give up writing because I'll never write anything that good. ( )
  jtodd1973 | Aug 26, 2014 |
Denis Johnson’s short stories set a standard in the late 20th century that has rarely been equalled. The voices of his narrators are raw, unadorned (except when wonder is the only appropriate reaction), unpretentious, and unprotected. They are typically lost young men seeking solace or oblivion in drink or drugs or sexual release. Only rarely, as with George in the much-praised “Emergency”, does a character’s goodness supervene on his situation and lack of comprehension. More often Johnson’s characters have a surfeit of venial sins which burble into the mortal. You can find them at sad dives like the Vine tavern wearing medical bracelets cheating each other out of quarters. These are not the noble poor who sometimes populate Carver stories, or the unheralded but self-believing geniuses of Kerouac. They have very few redeeming qualities and are marked only by their drive for their next hit of whatever.

The writing is spare and lean and almost always surprising. Narrative cohesion is consistently undercut. It happens so often that the reader will wonder what is the point of such unreliable narrators. Truth, perhaps, is not meant to inhere in correspondence with the world, but rather with something created through the telling. A kind of narrative truth? Certainly the lack of fidelity to what really happened does not tell against our belief in these narrators. Indeed it may speak in their favour. At any rate it is a fascinating technique that you now see widespread. Johnson was not the first to employ such a strategy, but I think he does it better than many who came before.

Apart from “Emergency”, which sparkles like the gem that it is, I would also point to “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” “Two Men,” “Out on Bail,” “Dundun,” and “The Other Man” as especially worthy of note. But now that I’ve named nearly all of the stories in the collection, I might just as well go on and say that any of the rest would be equally well worth a read. The stories are short but many of them will stay with you a very long time. Recommended. ( )
2 vote RandyMetcalfe | May 28, 2014 |
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When I'm rushing on my run
And I feel just like Jesus' Son...

-Lou Reed, Heroin
For Bob Cornfield
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A salesman who shared his liquor and steered while sleeping...A Cherokee filled with bourbon...A VW no more than a bubble of hashish fumes captained by a college student...And a family from Marshalltown who head-onned and killed forever a man driving west out of Bethany, Missouri...
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060975776, Paperback)

The unnamed narrator in Jesus' Son lives through a car wreck and a heroin overdose. Is he blessed? He cheats, lies, steals--but possesses a child's (or a mystic's) uncanny way of expressing the bare essence of things around him. In its own strange and luminous way, this linked collection of short fiction does the same. The stories follow characters who are seemingly marginalized beyond hope, drifting through a narcotic haze of ennui, failed relationships, and petty crime. In "Dundun" the narrator decides to take a shooting victim to the hospital, though not for the usual reasons: "I wanted to be the one who saw it through and got McInnes to the doctor without a wreck. People would talk about it, and I hoped I would be liked." Later he takes his own pathetic stab at violence in "The Other Man," attempting to avenge a drug rip-off but succeeding only at terrorizing an innocent family. Each meandering story--some utterly lacking in the usual elements of plot, including a beginning and an end--nonetheless demands compulsive reading, with Denis Johnson's first calling as a poet apparent in the off-kilter beauty of his prose. Open to any page and gems spill forth: "I knew every raindrop by its name. I sensed everything before it happened. I knew a certain Oldsmobile would stop for me even before it slowed, and by the sweet voices of the family inside that we'd have an accident in the storm."

The most successful stories in the collection offer moments of startling clarity. In "Car Crash While Hitchhiking," for instance, the narrator feels most alive while in the presence of another's loss: "Down the hall came the wife. She was glorious, burning. She didn't know yet that her husband was dead.... What a pair of lungs! She shrieked as I imagined an eagle would shriek. It felt wonderful to be alive to hear it! I've gone looking for that feeling everywhere." In "Work," while "salvaging" copper wire from a flooded house to fund their habits, the narrator and an acquaintance stop to watch the nearly unfathomable sight of a beautiful, naked woman paragliding up the river. Later the narrator learns that the house once belonged to his down-and-out accomplice and that the woman is his estranged wife. "As nearly as I could tell, I'd wandered into some sort of dream that Wayne was having about his wife, and his house," he reasons. Such is the experience for the reader. More Genet than Bukowski, Denis Johnson lures us into a misfit soul's dream from which he can't awake. --Langdon Cook

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:30 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Denis Johnson chronicles the wanderings of a young man as he struggles with addictions to drugs and alcohol. Separated into eleven stories, the young man eventually snaps out of his downward spiral and checks into rehab.

(summary from another edition)

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