Review from a Transgressive Fiction Fan

Not only had I never read Denis Johnson before this, but I’d never even heard his name before. How’s that possible, to live my life, talking books with whoever is willing, not to know of this exceptional writer?

This collection is comprised of five sizeable short stories, written in a style that is conversational, meandering, unsentimental and poetic. These stories touch on the tricky business of living and dying, relationships, the absurdity, randomness and beauty of life, our unknowing and unknowable selves, addiction, among other things. The stories are masculine. They are edgy. They are whimsical and philosophical. I won’t go into plots. What I will say is how they made meĀ feel.

I felt, in few pages, like I knew these characters, like I was sitting across from them over coffee, and they were talking to ME. I can see up close: a filling, age spots on a restless hand, a stained shirt cuff, a pink cheek at an emotional moment. They’re telling me everything that is important to them, their pivotal life experiences. I’m there, with them, just me and them, as their stories unfold. What an intimacy.

“Insightful” Review from a Mainstream Reader

I found these stories disjointed, depressing, and at times incoherent. I am left with the kind of bewildered feeling I had after interviewing schizophrenic patients. Now I need to watch something structured and purposeful like a cooking show or a basketball ball game.

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