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Jesus' Son: Stories (1992)

by Denis Johnson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,771794,960 (4.06)137
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.
  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. 00
    A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin (wandering_star)
  4. 02
    Palo Alto: Stories by James Franco (werdfert)

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» See also 137 mentions

English (77)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
Grew on me greatly over the course of the book. Especially the early stories have a vague, dreamy sense about them, even as they depict violent deaths, that's a little disconcerting but also obviously a good portrayal of the days running together nothingness of constant drug use in small dead end towns. The narrator is certainly not nice at all, but he's not completely unsympathetic - some of his behaviour is shit but he's a fucked up guy born in a fucked up world where this stuff is just normal.

The writing itself is really really great. The author is incredible at conveying scene and mood and feeling. He also adds a surprising amount of humour, even in the most fucked up situations there's often comedic moments that I wasn't expecting. The writing is clever and poetic but also sharp and clear and to the point, using short images that are still powerful.

I was sort of thinking of rating a 3, but after finishing I was surprised how much of an impact it had on me. There is a journey to sobriety over the course of the book, and it's heartfelt. If you let yourself be carried along and don't worry too much about "getting it" especially at the start, there's a lot to appreciate here ( )
  tombomp | Oct 31, 2023 |
This book's collection of stories rest awkward and jagged in your hands, threatening to break the skin if held too carelessly. ( )
  grahzny | Jul 17, 2023 |
"I gave him ten dollars and he disappeared."
"Last week."
"I haven't seen him."
"He should be more grown up."
"He's probably in Tacoma."
"How old is he, about thirty?"
"He'll be back tomorrow."
"He's too old to be yanking people off for a dime."
"Do you want to buy a pill? I need the money."
"What kind of pill?"
"It's psychedelic mushrooms all ground up."
She showed me. Nobody could have swallowed that thing.
"That's the biggest pill I've ever seen."
"I'll sell it for three dollars."
"I didn't know they made capsules that size. What size is that? Number One?"
"It's a Number One, yeah."
"Look at it! It's like an egg. It's like an Easter egg."
"Wait," she said, looking at my money. "No, right, yeah - three dollars. Some days I can't even count!" (124)

The title of _Jesus' Son_ refers to the Velvet Underground song "Heroin", and a conduit of drugs pulses through this collection, of losers on the fringes recalling Bukowski or a scuzzier Kerouac. People are always looking for a fix in whatever form that takes, and as a result we see the surrealism of life in America in certain towns and in certain places. People get shot, stabbed in the eye, hitchhike into car accidents, get institutionalized. Johnson rhapsodizes this kind of life. We turn away from it, but we are closer to it than we think. ( )
  jonbrammer | Jul 1, 2023 |
Powerful writing. This goes on my small shelf of short stories that are all that they need to be. ( )
  Kiramke | Jun 27, 2023 |
I always forget that "Car Crash While Hitchhiking" was the first story in his first collection. Imagine having the guts to lead with that -- having to be willing to try and follow it up, I mean. God. Loved this when I read it in uni and it holds up. Audiobook was a good choice for day at work that was slow inside & rainy outside.
  hapax_l | Mar 22, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Denis Johnsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Patton, WillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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When I'm rushing on my run
And I feel just like Jesus' Son...

-Lou Reed, Heroin
For Bob Cornfield
First words
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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