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Jesus' Son: Stories


Jesus' Son: Stories Cover

ISBN13: 9780060975777
ISBN10: 0060975776
Condition: Standard
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Car Crash While Hitchhiking

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 headonned and killed forever a man driving west out of Bethany, Missouri ...

... I rose up sopping wet from sleeping under the pouring rain, and something less than conscious, thanks to the first three of the people I've already named--the salesman and the Indian and the student--all of whom had given me drugs. At the head of the entrance ramp I waited without hope of a ride. What was the point, even, of rolling up my sleeping bag when I was too wet to be let into anybody's car? I draped it around me like a cape. The downpour raked the asphalt and gurgled in the ruts. My thoughts zoomed pitifully. The travelling salesman had fed me pills that made the linings of my veins feel scraped out. My jaw ached. 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 it I knew we'd have an accident in the storm.The man and the wife put the little girl up front with them and left the baby in back with me and my dripping bedroll. "I'm not taking you anywhere very fast," the man said. "I've got my wife and babies here, that's why."

You are the ones, I thought. And I piled my sleeping bag against the left-hand door and slept across it, not caring whether I lived or died. The baby slept free on the seat beside me. He was about nine months old.

... But before anyof this, that afternoon, the salesman and I had swept down into Kansas City in his luxury car. We'd developed a dangerous cynical camaraderie beginning in Texas, where he'd taken me on. We ate up his bottle of amphetamines, and every 80 often we pulled off the Interstate and bought another pint of Canadian Club and a sack of ice. His car had cylindrical glass holders attached to either door and a white, leathery interior. He said he'd take me home to stay overnight with his family, but first he wanted to stop and see a woman he knew.

Under Midwestern clouds like great grey brains we left the superhighway with a drifting sensation and entered Kansas City's rush hour with a sensation of running aground. As soon as we slowed down, all the magic of travelling together burned away. He went on and on about his girlfriend. "I like this girl, I think I love this girl--but I've got two kids and a wife, and there's certain obligations there. And on top of everything else, I love my wife. I'm gifted with love. I love my kids. I love all my relatives." As he kept on, I felt jilted and sad: "I have a boat, a little sixteen-footer. I have two cars. There's room in the back yard for a swimming pool." He found his girlfriend at work. She ran a furniture store, and I lost him there.

The clouds stayed the same until night. Then, in the dark, I didn't see the storm gathering. The driver of the Volkswagen, a college man, the one who stoked my head with all the hashish, let me out beyond the city limits just as it began to rain. Never mind the speed I'd been taking, I was too overcome to stand up. I lay out in the grass off the exit ramp and woke in the middle of a puddle that had filled up aroundme.

And later, as I've said, I slept in the back seat while the Oldsmobile--the family from Marshalltown--splashed along through the rain. And yet I dreamed I was looking right through my eyelids, and my pulse marked off the seconds of time. The Interstate through western Missouri was, in that era, nothing more than a two-way road, most of it. When a semi truck came toward us and passed going the other way, we were lost in a blinding spray and a warfare of noises such as you get being towed through an automatic car wash. The wipers stood up and lay down across the windshield without much effect. I was exhausted, and after an hour I slept more deeply.

I'd known all along exactly what was going to happen. But the man and his wife woke me up later, denying it viciously.


"NO!"In a minute the driver, who'd been slumped over the wheel, sat up and peered at us. His face was smashed and dark with blood. It made my teeth hurt to look at him--but when he spoke, it didn't sound as if any of his teeth were broken.

"What happened?"

"We had a wreck," he said...

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Clark, January 14, 2008 (view all comments by Clark)
I was totally blown away with this book. The short stories were amazing. Denis Johnson has the ability to make you feel like you are a direct part of the story; many authors lack this talent. Jesus' Son is a short and quick read, but yet powerful and lasting. I will definately read this one again. A+ for Jesus' Son.
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psaucerman, July 6, 2007 (view all comments by psaucerman)
Denis Johnson's brilliant first effort is on par with Jim Dodge's FUP, although it is a distinctly darker field. These short stories are perfect summer reading, even as the subject matter is a bit sobering.
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Product Details

Stories by
Johnson, Denis
by Denis Johnson
Harper Perennial
New York, N.Y. :
Short Stories (single author)
Short stories
Edition Description:
1st HarperPerennial ed.
Publication Date:
December 1993
Grade Level:
7.22x4.40x.47 in. .27 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Jesus' Son: Stories Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 176 pages Perennial - English 9780060975777 Reviews:
"Review" by , "These tales are told with...a kind of grinding realism which would suggest that these events are as purposeless as they seem. But at heart Johnson is a metaphysician, and through the luminous windows that startlingly open in the deadpan prose..."
"Review" by , "Johnson has the distinction of being both a poet and a novelist of gritty realism who uses language like a paring knofe to slice through to the bones of his subject matter....[These stories] are as muscular and tight as a washboard stomach, as resonant as a drum."
"Review" by , "[Johnson] is doing something deeply new in these stories, and the formal novelty brings us into a new intimacy with the violence that is rising around us in this country like the killing waters of a flood."
"Review" by , "A work of spare beauty and almost religious intensity."
"Review" by , "[F]or the most part the stories are neurasthenic, as though Johnson hopes the shock value of characters fatally overdosing in the presence of lovers and friends will substitute for creativity and hard work from him."
"Review" by , "Reading these stories is like reading ticker tape from the subconscious."
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