Synopses & Reviews
“Thanks to its wicked style and pacing, Mule
lets me forget Im reading serious literature while I follow its terrifying story into the land of the all-American damned.” — Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air
“Mule is swift, taut, and relentless, both a rip-roaring drug tale and a fascinating portrait of a decent human being whose morals slowly disintegrate under unbearable financial strain.” — Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton
James and Kate are golden children of the late twentieth century, flush with opportunity. But an economic downturn and an unexpected pregnancy send them searching for a way to make do. A friend in Californias Siskiyou County grows prime-grade marijuana; if James transports just one load from Cali to Florida, hell pull down enough cash to survive for months. And so begins the life of a mule.
A page-turning, Zeitgeist-capturing novel that plunges us into the criminal underworld with little chance to take a breath, Mule is about young people trying to make do in a moment when the American Dream they never had to believe in — because it was handed to them, fully wrapped and ready to go at the takeout window — suddenly vanishes from the menu.
“With adrenaline-infused sentences and a seat-gripping story line, Mule is a novel that illuminates contemporary American desperation, both its dangerous precipices and its thrilling, overwhelming freedom.” — Dean Bakopoulos, author of My American Unhappiness
"Just as noir seems exhausted, Denis Johnson comes along with his new novel, Already Dead. Although Johnson appears to have smashed the genre, only to reassemble its shards, the rich and strange result is greater than the sum of those parts." Spin
"His most ambitious book yet....Denis Johnson is a master chronicler of wrecked lives whose dead-end journeys he delineates in excruciatingly beautiful prose." Elle
"Murderers and dope fiends never sounded so poetic....What makes this book hard to put down...is the operatic grandeur of Johnson's prose, which is sometimes beautiful and often hypnotic." People
"Johnson's prose conjures up a world that is as tangible as it is magical. He is an utterly brilliant and original talent, a novelist who reminds us just how wonderful fiction can be." Philadelphia Inquirer
"Already Dead looks very much like Johnson's bid to hit the charts, with a bullet....This new novel offers just about everything that thriller buyers look for: drugs, booze, sex, murderous violence, a soupcon of the supernatural and a large cast of enterprising psychopaths." Time
"Mr. Johnson writes beautifully, with energy and grace, as though his hands were on fire and his head caked in ice....Every page boasts exhilarating flights of Mr. Johnson's prose." New York Observer
"[A] mesmerizingly hazy journey through evil....Johnson is a crafty writer....His characters cross-pollinate the novel with human emotions and inclinations....Ultimately, Johnson brings a poet's eye and style to the novel." Scott Martelle, The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review
"A kinky jeremiad...powered by amusingly feverish images of California-as-Armageddon....The book does move right along, despite its bulk, and the writing is frequently charged with energy and wit." Kirkus Reviews
"Johnson's strengths lie in his lyrical descriptions of the Pacific Coast and the surprising depth he evokes in his character development....Reminiscent of the work of Robert Stone and Jim Harrison." Benjamin Segedin, Booklist
"[A] black comedy of Wagnerian proportions....The pace is excruciatingly slow, the structure sloppy, and the huge cast of weirdos unwieldy, but Johnson's druggy prose is simply gorgeous." Library Journal
"An acutely detailed page-turner..."
—Entertainment Weekly "[D'Souza's] authorial voice is sharp and crisp, eschewing flowery prose for a hard-hitting narrative style that perfectly suits the page-turning, drugfueled tale. Fans of Toby Young and Max Barry and those who follow DSouzas magazine work will greatly enjoy the timely, witty, fast-paced Mule."
—Booklist "A smart and bracing ground-level exploration of the drug trade."
—Kirkus "Mule is the sort of novel I love: it solves nothing but explains everything. It also, thanks to its wicked style and pacing, lets me forget Im reading serious literature while I follow its terrifying story into the land of the all-American damned."
—Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air "Mule is swift, taut, and relentless, both a rip-roaring drug tale and a fascinating portrait of a decent human being whose morals slowly disintegrate under unbearable financial strain. Tony D'Souza proves, yet again, that he is an immensely clever storyteller with plenty of talent to spare."
—Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton "With adrenaline-infused sentences and a seat-gripping storyline, Tony DSouza has written one of the first great novels to emerge from our perplexing, endless recession. A heartfelt tale of one familys freefall, Mule is a novel that illuminates contemporary American desperation, both its dangerous precipices and its thrilling, overwhelming freedom."
—Dean Bakopoulos, author of My American Unhappiness
A contemporary noir, Already Dead
is the tangled story of Nelson Fairchild Jr., disenfranchised scion to a northern California land fortune. A relentless failure, Nelson has botched nearly every scheme he's attempted to pull off. Now his future lies in a potentially profitable marijuana patch hidden in the lush old-growth redwoods on the family land.
Nelson has some serious problems. His marriage has fallen apart, and he may lose his land, cash and crop in the divorce. What's more, in need of some quick cash, he had foolishly agreed to smuggle $90,000 worth of cocaine through customs for Harry Lally, a major player in a drug syndicate. Chickening out just before bringing the drugs through, he flushed the powder. Now Lally wants him dead, and two goons are hot on his trail. Desperate, terrified and alone, for Nelson, there may be only one way out.
This is Denis Johnson's biggest and most complex book to date, and it perfectly showcases his signature themes of fate, redemption and the unraveling of the fabric of today's society. Already Dead, with its masterful narrative of overlapping and entwined stories, will further fuel the acclaim that surrounds one of today's most fascinating writers.
Nelson Fairchild has a thriving marijuana business in California's lush redwood country. But he may lose land, cash, and crop in a divorce settlement. Needing quick cash, Nelson agreed to smuggle $90,000 worth of cocaine through customs for drug dealer Harry Lally. But Nelson chickened out and flushed the powder. Now, Lally wants him dead. This is award-winning writer Denis Johnson's biggest and most complex novel yet.
For three generations Nelson Fairchild's family has owned miles of coastal Northern California, a region to whose grandness, he believes, the best people are drawn. But it's also a land of interminable rains, puzzling droughts, and cloying fog-banks. And some of its fine people have become, in Fairchild's eyes, "isolated minds bending around tightly to feed on themselves." These are his people the burnouts and mystics, the bikers and surfers, the witches and warlocks.
Into this world comes Carl Van Ness, a man bent on suicide who thinks of himself as "already dead," drifting along the coast until he finds this strange community waiting for him. Then he collides with Nelson Fairchild. The pacts Fairchild makes first with criminal associates, later with the would-be suicide, finally with a demon all have to be paid for. The lengths to which he's willing to go ultimately become the depths to which he must sink before he's ready to confront himself. And his journey leads readers into the labyrinth of Northern California's demimonde.
A novel about the recession generation and a young couple who turn to drug trafficking to make it through.
About the Author
Tony DSouza is the author of three novels, including the award-winning Whiteman. He has contributed to The New Yorker, Playboy, Esquire, Outside, Salon, Granta, McSweeneys, O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Fantasy, and elsewhere. A recipient of the Sue Kaufman Prize, Florida Gold and Silver Medals for fiction, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and the NEA, Tony was nominated for a National Magazine Award for coverage of Nicaraguas Eric Volz murder trial and spent three years in Africa with the Peace Corps.