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Train Dreams: A Novella

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Train Dreams: A Novella Cover

ISBN13: 9781250007650
ISBN10: 1250007658
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A New York Times Notable BookAn Esquire Best Book of 2011A New Yorker Favorite Book of 2011A Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of 2011 Denis Johnsons Train Dreams is an epic in miniature, one of his most evocative and poignant fictions. It is the story of Robert Grainier, a day laborer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century---an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime. Suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West, this novella by the National Book Award--winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life.

About the Author

Denis Johnson is the author of six novels, three collections of poetry, and one book of reportage. His novel Tree of Smoke was the 2007 winner of the National Book Award.

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lukas, March 20, 2014 (view all comments by lukas)
Denis Johnson wrote a big, ambitious, sprawling book about Vietnam ("Tree of Smoke"), so it's understandable that he returned to the small scale and stark prose of his earlier books. A novella doesn't necessarily have to be slight, but this is to the point of being forgettable, despite Johnson's skillful writing. For my money, he's never topped his collection of interconnected stories, "Jesus' Son." There are some similarities to McCarthy, but Johnson's more down to earth.
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rroseselavy, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by rroseselavy)
An elegy for the most common sort of person who must in some ways typify who really settled the American West. Much in the spirit of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee, Johnson finds the glory and poetry in the life of someone people did not even notice had died. An amazing book that could not be more well written, nor written with more economy.
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Darin, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Darin)
Proving that powerful writing does not require an abundance of technical flourishes and exuberant verbosity, Denis Johnson's masterful novella tells its tale with a language so precisely honed the reader feels an immediate kinship with Robert Grainier, the early 20th century woodsman whose life of considerable loss we experience. Born in 1886 in either Utah or Canada, Grainier never knew his birth family. Hiring on first with logging outfits in Washington state, then with the railroads, he has never shirked from honest, hard labor. Finally meeting a woman of whom he feels worthy, he marries in his early 30s and has a daughter, only to suffer unspeakable tragedy.

Retreating from society to his self-built cabin in the woods, Robert is our guide through the early 20th century as technogical marvels outpaced the capacity to adapt to them. He has driven wagons with teams of horses, built and rode the rails, motored in early automobiles and even flown in a biplane. That this novella (first published in the Paris Review in 2002) tells of alienation juxtaposed with advanced technology which purportedly makes communication and travel easier, the parallels to the early 21st century never cease to amaze; with all of the gadgetry and telecommunications devices at our disposal, are we any less isolated than the part-time hermit living at the edges of his time and place? The effect is a temporal displacement that lesser writers could not pull off.

Beautifully composed, gorgeously literate, full of wondrous yet precise description, Train Dreams transports its readers across time to experience the heartache of one man and his place in a country which does its best to strip him of all that is worth living. Scenes of natural wonder, heartbreaking tenderness and phantasmagorical echoes compete to create a landscape of the human heart. Highly recommended to read annually as a reminder of our place in the grand scheme of things.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781250007650
Author:
Johnson, Denis
Publisher:
Picador USA
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20120531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
128
Dimensions:
7.125 x 4.5 in

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