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The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories by…

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories (2018)

by Denis Johnson

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3512251,504 (4.11)29
A collection of stories contemplates subjects ranging from old age and mortality to the unexpected ways the mysteries of the universe manifest, depicting haunted characters trying to atone for the past, remember departed loved ones, or come to terms with lifelong obsessions.



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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
not a bad story in the small bunch and they kept getting better. a great read from one of the best. ( )
  ThomasPluck | Apr 27, 2020 |
Sadly, Denis Johnson didn't live to see this collection of short stories published. It was only his second, after the wildly acclaimed Jesus' Son, which is certainly one of the best collection of stories I've ever read. This book is also quite good, although I ended up taking a half star off because the final story, "Doppelganger, Poltergeist" - about a talented poet who is obsessed with a wild theory about Elvis Presley having been murdered and replaced by his supposedly stillborn twin, just goes on way too long. It is not without interest. While some of the stories in this volume resemble Jesus' Son in their depiction of the addicted and down and out, others, like this one, tell tales of itinerant professors and their non-adventures. In either case, Johnson's writing is always engaging and interesting. Despite a few flaws, it is must reading, and makes a fine bookend for Jesus' Son. ( )
  datrappert | Sep 21, 2019 |
I read Tree of Smoke years ago and didn't love it, so I was slightly reluctant to try on this collection of short stories. I was wrong. These stories completely blew me away. Johnson has an incredible sense of humor and gift for inhabiting the voices of his characters. The five stories all center on mortality and what it means to have lived a meaningful life, so they're even more powerful for having been published after Johnson's untimely death. Now I intend to go back and read more of Johnson's earlier work. ( )
  jalbacutler | Mar 18, 2019 |
Johnson starts his stories by disarming you with humor and the off-kilter charm of his narrators, and it stays with you as their crazy unspools - the crazy varying from mildly eccentric to bat shit. It seems like he loves these lost and sometimes beaten men and wants his reader to feel their humanity, but without pity or sentimentality. Women figure very little in these stories and they never have their own voice, but this isn't a criticism or a complaint, just a description. Johnson writes a man's world. (As my goodreads friend Jenny says, when you finish a story, you feel like you need a cigarette.) My favorite story was 'Starlight on Idaho" - a title that conjures up a romantic evening in the woods - until you read the first sentence and realize the joke's on you. I love Johnson's writing - wonderful timing in his dialogues, and even his small descriptions have a great punch to them. Here's a description of a little park in New York City, from the story "Doppelganger, Poltergeist":

I'm sitting with Marcus Ahearn twenty minutes later in a park plaza I often retreated to in those days, a tiny green triangle where 106th crosses Broadway and then, immediately, West End Avenue: a couple of benches among budding oaks, random pigeons, eager squirrels, and big river rats, too, migrants from the Hudson just blocks away, assimilated by the upper west side culture and now living as squirrels." ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Another attempt at reading short stories, which apparently isn’t for me. The writing was good, I just found myself bored and not connecting with/caring for the characters. ( )
  Lauranthalas | Feb 6, 2019 |
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