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Jesus' Son: Stories

Jesus' Son: Stories

Автор Denis Johnson

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Jesus' Son: Stories

Автор Denis Johnson

оценки:
4/5 (66 оценки)
Длина:
110 страниц
1 час
Издатель:
Издано:
13 окт. 2009 г.
ISBN:
9781466806887
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Описание

American master Denis Johnson's nationally bestselling collection of blistering and indelible tales about America's outcasts and wanderers

Denis Johnson's now classic story collection Jesus' Son chronicles a wild netherworld of addicts and lost souls, a violent and disordered landscape that encompasses every extreme of American culture. These are stories of transcendence and spiraling grief, of hallucinations and glories, of getting lost and found and lost again. The insights and careening energy in Jesus' Son have earned the book a place of its own among the classics of twentieth-century American literature.

Издатель:
Издано:
13 окт. 2009 г.
ISBN:
9781466806887
Формат:

Об авторе

Denis Johnson is the author of The Name of the World, Already Dead, Jesus' Son, Resuscitation of a Hanged Man, Fiskadoro, The Stars at Noon, and Angels. His poetry has been collected in the volume The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly. He is the recipient of a Lannan Fellowship and a Whiting Writer's Award, among many other honors for his work. He lives in northern Idaho.


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Jesus' Son - Denis Johnson

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.

I didn’t care. They said they’d take me all the way.

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 any of 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 so 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 around me.

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.

"Oh—no!"

NO!

I was thrown against the back of their seat so hard that it broke. I commenced bouncing back and forth. A liquid which I knew right away was human blood flew around the car and rained down on my head. When it was over I was in the back seat again, just as I had been. I rose up and looked around. Our headlights had gone out. The radiator was hissing steadily. Beyond that, I didn’t hear a thing. As far as I could tell, I was the only one conscious. As my eyes adjusted I saw that the baby was lying on its back beside me as if nothing had happened. Its eyes were open and it was feeling its cheeks with its little hands.

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.

The baby’s okay, I said, although I had no idea how the baby was.

He turned to his wife.

Janice, he said. Janice, Janice!

Is she okay?

She’s dead! he said, shaking her angrily.

No, she’s not. I was ready to deny everything myself now.

Their little girl was alive, but knocked out. She whimpered in her sleep. But the man went on shaking his wife.

Janice! he hollered.

His wife moaned.

She’s not dead, I said, clambering from the car and running away.

She won’t wake up, I heard him say.

I was standing out here in the night, with the baby, for some reason, in my arms. It must have still been raining, but I remember nothing about the weather. We’d collided with another car on what I now perceived was a two-lane bridge. The water beneath us was invisible in the dark.

Moving toward the other car I began to hear rasping, metallic snores. Somebody was flung halfway out the passenger door, which was open, in the posture of one hanging from a trapeze by his ankles. The car had been broadsided, smashed so flat that no room was left inside it even for this person’s legs, to say nothing of a driver or any other passengers. I just walked right on past.

Headlights were coming from far off. I made for the head of the bridge, waving them to a stop with one arm and clutching the baby to my shoulder with the other.

It was a big semi, grinding its gears as it decelerated. The driver rolled down his window and I shouted up at him, "There’s a wreck. Go for

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  • (5/5)
    One of those books that makes me want to give up writing because I'll never write anything that good.
  • (3/5)
    Raw poetry set into stories of all sorts of people down on their luck, usually with no one to blame but themselves.
  • (4/5)
    Denis Johnson’s short stories set a standard in the late 20th century that has rarely been equalled. The voices of his narrators are raw, unadorned (except when wonder is the only appropriate reaction), unpretentious, and unprotected. They are typically lost young men seeking solace or oblivion in drink or drugs or sexual release. Only rarely, as with George in the much-praised “Emergency”, does a character’s goodness supervene on his situation and lack of comprehension. More often Johnson’s characters have a surfeit of venial sins which burble into the mortal. You can find them at sad dives like the Vine tavern wearing medical bracelets cheating each other out of quarters. These are not the noble poor who sometimes populate Carver stories, or the unheralded but self-believing geniuses of Kerouac. They have very few redeeming qualities and are marked only by their drive for their next hit of whatever.The writing is spare and lean and almost always surprising. Narrative cohesion is consistently undercut. It happens so often that the reader will wonder what is the point of such unreliable narrators. Truth, perhaps, is not meant to inhere in correspondence with the world, but rather with something created through the telling. A kind of narrative truth? Certainly the lack of fidelity to what really happened does not tell against our belief in these narrators. Indeed it may speak in their favour. At any rate it is a fascinating technique that you now see widespread. Johnson was not the first to employ such a strategy, but I think he does it better than many who came before.Apart from “Emergency”, which sparkles like the gem that it is, I would also point to “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” “Two Men,” “Out on Bail,” “Dundun,” and “The Other Man” as especially worthy of note. But now that I’ve named nearly all of the stories in the collection, I might just as well go on and say that any of the rest would be equally well worth a read. The stories are short but many of them will stay with you a very long time. Recommended.
  • (5/5)
    My first experience with Denis Johnson's work. I really enjoyed the stories and the writing. So much poetry in these bleak stories. Without the beautiful writing, the characters and situations likely wouldn't have held my interest very long. I can't wait to read more of Johnson's work.
  • (5/5)
    This is the funniest book in the universe, for a moment, then a page later it's unbearably sad. The story of drug addict told in electrifying prose. Short and powerful, highly recommended
  • (4/5)
    Another short story collection with a ton of hoopla about it. Pretty good stories of deadbeats and their lives and dope and booze, which apparently the author knows from his own life. You can pick this slim volume up and put it down and read it in bits. I had no idea that he influenced so many writers. He reminds me a bit of my misspent youth and the fiction of James Purdy.
  • (4/5)
    I would be the first to admit that my guilty book reading interest (I won’t go as far to say ‘pleasure’) is that of the ‘addiction, drugs, alcohol, mental health and/or messed up state’ genre. I suppose it comes from life and work experiences. I’m a social worker by background and for as long as I remember I’ve worked or studied in health and social care. I’m interested in the personal story, the human condition and often fascinated in how addiction impacts upon someones life, on those around them and the psychology of addiction. I am certainly not talking about glorification. With this in mind, it’s no surprise for me to say that I’ve read a number of fiction and non fiction in this area.As is often the case, fiction seems to be more believable than non fiction and there is often an element of truth. I’m thinking The Drinker by Hans Fallada, Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton and of course Junky by William S Burroughs. Jesus’ Son almost makes it.Jesus’ Son is a collection of 11 short stories all told from the experiences of the same person. It’s a very short book which can be read in one sitting. It can be confusing at times which is what I think it’s meant to be. It appears to be a well structured stream of consciousness (if that makes sense).We don’t know the current age of the narrator, I’m not sure we even know the gender (assumed to be a man) and we are certainly not provided with reference to the time frame of when most of the stories happened. What we do know is that the narrator is a recovering addict although he does not explicitly inform us of this.Each short story tells of a memorable occasion in his life be this an interesting person he met, where he was working or who he fell in love with. Maybe. In some stories the writing is vivid and graphic, although in the main it appears to tell of life which in reality is mundane and aimless. The physical act of drug use is mentioned fleetingly. The book mostly focuses upon the narrators actions whilst high, low and going through withdrawal from drugs and alcohol and it certainly provides us with the impression of the confusion and chaos in the mind of the narrator.“We lay down on a stretch of dusty plywood in the back of the truck with the day light against our eyelids and the fragrance of alfalfa thickening on our tongues.“I want to go to church” Georgie said.“Let’s go to the county fair.”“I’d like to worship. I would.”“They have these injured hawks and eagles there. From the Humane Society” I said.“I need a quiet chapel about now.” (p.63)Jesus’ Son is a well written journal, quick to read and easy to confuse. I don’t understand why I remain unsure as to what I really think of the book. There is a lot of hype which surrounds it and I always seem to be a little out of step in such cases. I would guess that my expectations for the book were out of step having read a number of different books in this genre which left me feeling more fulfilled (for want of a better word). I’m left feeling that there are things I have missed and maybe I need to read the book again. Nonetheless, it’s very much subjective and I feel that Jesus’ Son remains a well thought out, well written chronicle.
  • (2/5)
    Y'know, shit. This book? The film followed it amazingly well. I think the two need to exist together, one a colour picture of the other.It's like reading a dream that is typed as seen, and you've been there and you haven't. You know every asshole and jerk described in the book and you remember the same hopes.
  • (5/5)
    I'm sure almost everyone reads this in one sitting. It isn't that many pages, and there are a lot of blank ones in there as well, and the type is spaced wider than usual--but you'll read it in one sitting because the words just flow off the page into your head. Everything here, whether it is the happenings in a home for the mentally ill, or in the emergency room, or in a car, just seems so real. Some live, some die, some just muddle on. Life is a mess, but somehow life is also beautiful. Riding along with Johnson never gets boring.
  • (3/5)
    I will say this about this, and you won't all like it: pick a story and read it. Pick another story now, and read that too. Put it down. You have now read Jesus' Son, and you will think "these stories are striking and wonderful." But read all the stories in their proper order, and you might think (at least I did), "these stories are all the same. The first two were wonderful, but after them I felt I was dealing with a one trick pony, and one trick ponies are no kind of pony to be." If you understand what I am saying call me. My number is 610 608 8##3.
  • (5/5)
    An amazing work by one of my favorite authors. I lent this book to a patient I had and he returned with a small note written on the inside, which I think sums up the work very well; "So much chaos brought to heel."
  • (4/5)
    Gritty, gritty, gritty, gritty, gritty.
  • (4/5)
    Reading these stories, it felt like every excess word was stripped away. Each story was like a pristine crystal. This is real writing. Denis Johnson is a major talent. This ranks up there with the works of Chekhov (seriously), and Hemingway. Sometimes it reminded me of Brautigan (when at his best). This may be Johnson's masterpiece. Spare, beautiful, haunting. I want to hug the guy for writing something this beautiful.
  • (4/5)
    A hard read. This book reads like John Cheever on Heroin. The title, taken from Lou Reed's "Heroin", is unassuming. What lies beneath the cover of this small book are some of the most memorable character, and haunting situation in contemporary literature. The book takes from Joyce the "epiphany" laced short story form, adds junk. The last story ties this together in a neat package, and that package weakens the over effect of the book. But overall this book is a must read, and it will be something that you will go back to again and again for more.
  • (5/5)
    I like the fact that my copy of this book is small, so small and light and weighty. These are short stories about events in the life of a drunk and drug addict, and they are told in a matter-of-fact, true, poetic, thoughtful way. I read them one at a time over a few days and reread some of them on the spot. I expect to be rereading them ongoing.
  • (3/5)
    Somewhere on the book jacket or in a review, I read that Johnson's stories offered a "surreal perspective" on American society. It doesn't seem surreal to me at all, just a take on our society from a viewpoint most mainstream folks rarely, if ever, encounter. These stories are weirdly captivating and quite well written.
  • (2/5)
    This book, with it's interesting title, qualifies as average. It's a short book and the stories are told in a non-sequential hazy style illustrating the life of a drug addict. The reader learns about how he stalks people, watches people die, insults his girlfriend after an abortion, etc. It's does have some value as a perspective piece with a rather unique writing style, if that's what you like. And it is a short book that goes rather quickly. On the whole, I'd give it a C.
  • (5/5)
    At first, a young drug-induced reader, I reveled in Johnson's very detached, very personal narratives, but after a while my impression that the rabbit hole had turned into a black hole, a void of life having only occasional color from being high on various things, became very pervasive and enlightening--standing on the verge of...many psychological addictions...this book helped me mature and see pieces of real life that are beautiful and even better than the occasional dream-like state; it helped me see life as less nightmarish (or more nightmarish, depending on how I'm feeling that day). I found much meaning in this book.
  • (5/5)
    Absolutely the best book you'll ever read about drugs, torture, Amish voyeurism, etc. And it's not very long, so no excuses.
  • (3/5)
    I left this in the reading room, and the river of time flows on, beneath pudgy fifteen-year-olds addicted to coffee whitener, until it comes above ground in a place where everything I wanted to say and all the bits I wanted to look at again in order to word-wright my argument, is gone. So you get this shameful surrender of a review, copied from a message board post:

    The first couple of stories are kind of duds, but then it gets really good: a bushel of tiny little gestures toward a few things we've looked at dans le Salon Littéraire--Wallace, Trainspotting--as well as ummmm Burroughs, sometimes sort of a white Sherman Alexie, and the stories set in Seattle remind me of this book I like Skids By Cathleen With, except with less solidarity and more nihilism. The title is a reference to the Velvet Underground's "Heroin":I don't know just where I'm goingBut I'm gonna try for the kingdom, if I can'Cause it makes me feel like I'm a manWhen I put a spike into my veinAnd I'll tell ya, things aren't quite the sameWhen I'm rushing on my runAnd I feel just like Jesus' sonAnd I guess that I just don't knowAnd I guess that I just don't know

    but this one's less about smack per se and more about fuckups and sadness. Like every good smack book.

  • (3/5)
    Despite myself I actually kind of got into this by the end. The stories are explicitly centered on one character, which gets around the problem of Lange's 'Dead Boys,' that all the protagonists are the same but meant to be different. It also means that the 'stories' that lack a plot, point, theme, structure and any interest whatsoever (and that's most of them, let's be honest) can be treated more like you treat the chapters in a novel which don't necessarily develop, but do contribute something else to the book. The great stories - Car Crash, Emergency, and Beverly Home - stand out all the more because the rest of them are so dull and pointless. In short, what looks to begin with like another glorification/damnation of junkie living turns out to be an admission that junkie life is deathly boring compared to what should be the dullness and cliched rubbish of 'rehabilitation,' 'detox' and narcotics anonymous.
    The catch is that, as in every junkie book I've ever read and will ever read, the narrator or, at the very least, the protagonist, is an emotional idiot. Anything which isn't violently painful or pointless is gloriously salvific and splendiferous. The options in this world are suffering, or Disneyfied technicolor. Perhaps that's what addiction does to you. But a large part of the dullness of that life is the black and white nature of it. And it doesn't make for the best book.
  • (5/5)
    Read this book.

    It is difficult to tell you why. There is not much like it, outside of comparisons to short story giants like Carver. Beautiful, searing, and leaves you with a lasting buzz.
  • (5/5)
    I don't reread often, so I was happy to find that this collection thrills me as much as these stories did when I first read them almost 30 years ago. Johnson's use of language is still surprising—and considering all the fiction I've read since I was in my 20s, that's pretty impressive—and those swooping, propulsive sentences continue to delight me. That first graf of "Dirty Wedding" still does it for me—I liked to sit up front and ride the fast ones all day long, I liked it when they brushed right up against the buildings north of the Loop and I especially liked it when the buildings dropped away into that bombed-out squalor a little farther north in which people (through windows you'd see a person in his dirty naked kitchen spooning soup toward his face, or twelve children on their bellies on the floor, watching television, but instantly they were gone, wiiped away by a movie billboard of a woman winking and touching her upper lip deftly with her tongue, and she in turn erased by a—wham, the noise and dark dropped down around your head—tunnel) actually lived.—like an old flame who still, surprisingly, looks fine. I don't find his marginal folks as fascinating as I once did, no doubt because I'm middle-aged and staid and don't know or even really want to know characters like that anymore; no hint of there-but-for-the-grace-of-god in my heart these days. That's been replaced by a healthy middle-aged dose of compassion, which—pleasingly—deepens my appreciation of their hapless lot rather than dulls it. So really, cheers to Denis Johnson. I could sit down and unpack every sentence in this book and I still wouldn't be able to figure out how he does it, but he does. I should probably own a copy of this—I think I used to, and no doubt gave it away. I'm sure one will turn up someplace.
  • (4/5)
    I'm giving this book four stars if only because I've been giving out five stars too willy-nilly and it's gotta stop. Am I going to go back and reevaluate books I've already rated five stars? No, probably not. Because I AM LAZY.

    That being said this book is great and I am a fool for not having read this sooner. Especially because I read Tree of Smoke and Train Dreams first. This book presents a world that I don't want to be a part of, yet I can't help but get the feeling that it is already all around us. It's scary, but the writing is beautiful.

    You should read this book sooner rather than later, then you won’t feel foolish like I do.
  • (4/5)
    “The vine was different every day. Some of the most terrible things that had happened to me in my life had happened in here. But like the others I kept coming back.”“That moment in the bar, after the fight was narrowly averted, was like the green silence after the hailstorm. Somebody was buying a round of drinks. The cards were scattered on the table, face up, face down, and they seemed to foretell that whatever we did to one another would be washed away by liquor or explained away by sad songs.”This story collection, feels like a potent brew, cooked up by Ken Kesey, Charles Bukowski and Lou Reed. A hallucinogenic stew of barflies, addicts, mental patients and misfits, living at the bottom or on the fringes of a derelict world. There is sadness and pain in these stories but there is also a glimmer of redemption. Obviously, this not for all tastes, some readers will flee in horror, but I found Johnson's wounded prose a transcendent joy.“All these weirdos, and me getting a little better every day right in the midst of them. I had never known, never even imagined for a heartbeat, that there might be a place for people like us.”
  • (5/5)
    Vignettes of a hollow man with a hollow vein in an even more hollow Midwestern landscape puking up the ashes of the American Dream alongside a cadre of irredeemable characters. All at once, surprisingly, a hilarious and devastating book with characters you pity ad struggle to perceive as human, even though you know they exist, somewhere. Half dream, half wreck, despite the prose which is always beautiful and always present. Some of the best American short fiction since O'Connor and Hemingway.
  • (5/5)
    Denis Johnson is an amazing writer. Amazing. The final story in this collection completely blew me away. Truthfully, I wish I had been reading a novel rather than short stories which is why initially I was disappointed. Every time I would get into a story it would end. Regardless, I recommend this whole-heartedly if only for the final story.
  • (5/5)
    No one else does it like this.
  • (5/5)
    Extraordinary. My favorite book written in the past 20 years.Johnson has deep insight into human beings, incredible descriptive powers and is painfully empathetic.
  • (3/5)
    I was expecting to like these stories more than I did. While I appreciate the writing style, the refusal to conform to normal prose standards, and the realism of a life of addiction, I felt cut off from the characters. Good writing to be sure, but not my cup of tea.