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Denis Johnson Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Angels (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fiskadoro (1985) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Stars at Noon (1986) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Resuscitation of a Hanged Man (1991) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Already Dead (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Name of the World (2000) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Tree of Smoke (2007) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Nobody Move (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Laughing Monsters (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Plays

Shoppers (2002) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Soul of a Whore / Purvis (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Train Dreams (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Seek (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Denis Johnson was an American author famously known for his novel Tree of Smoke published in 2007 and a short story collection titled, Jesus’ Son published in 1992. Johnson also wrote poetry, plays, non-fiction, and journalism. Born in 1949 Munich, Germany, and spent part of his childhood in Japan, in the Philippines and the suburbs of Washington, D.C. His father worked as a liaison between the CIA and USIA while his mother was a homemaker. Denis earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1971 from the University of Lowa and masters in fine arts from Lowa Writers Workshop where he also took classes from Raymond Carver.

Johnson’s debut book, The Man Among Seals, was a collection of poetry published in 1969 at the age of nineteen. He garnered positive acclaim with the publication of his debut novel, Angels in 1983 and rose to fame in 1992 when Jesus’ Son was published. This novel was voted as one of the best works of American fiction ever published in the last two and half decades. The book has also been described as transcendent, legendary and a masterpiece. Jesus’ Son was adapted into a 1999 drama film featuring Samantha Morton, Billy Crudup, Denis Leary, Holly Hunter, Michael Shannon, John Ventimiglia, and Jack Black.

Tree of Smoke, first published in 2004 won a National Book Award for Fiction and was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008. The novel is set during the Vietnam war spanning from 1963-1970. In this book, we learn about Bill Houston, the protagonist in Denis Johnson debut novel Angels. Trains Dreams initially published as a story in The Paris Review was published as a novella in 2011 and was also a finalist for Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The author’s plays have been produced in Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and Seattle. Altogether, Denis Johnson published nine novels, two books of short stories, one novella, two collections of plays, three collections of poetry, and one book of reportage. The last novel published while still alive was The Laughing Monsters set in African countries such as Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Congo which Johnson called a literary thriller. The book was released in 2014. The author’s final work was The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, which was published posthumously in January 2018. Johnson passed on in Mat 24th 2017 from liver cancer at his home in The Sea Ranch aged 67.

Jesus’ Son

Jesus Son, a collection of short stories by Denis Johnson, is a unique visions of modern American life unequaled in immediacy and power and marks a new level of success for this prolific author. In their neon-lit evocations, the intensity of perception brought close to our own. The stories in Jesus Son offer a beautiful yet disturbing depiction of American loneliness and hope.

The book features everyday type of people who have slipped down the gutter and lost their grip on normal life. Much of the time, these people do nothing, have nothing to do, nothing to be or to live for. It is beautiful and bleak at the same time, a trip through the entangled emotions of people living simple lives but complicated by poor choices. Everything from happiness, love, loss and sheer horror is beautifully covered in this novel. One moment the writing is just as slick as oil while the next is jagged as broken glass.

Denis Johnson’s writing prose is immeasurable, with imagery and sentences that will orbit the readers conscious for eternity. It is that type of book, one that moves into the reader’s mind and makes itself comfortable. His writing has the toughness of Chandler, with a kind of unbeaten sensitivity that Chandler Raymond would never expose. Johnson’s skills as a poet, short story writer, and novelist are all integrated into Jesus’ Son to produce a funny, yet sad and frightening masterpiece.
Loosely inspired by Denis Johnson experiences, Jesus’ Son opens up with the protagonist is Fuckhead hitchhiking in the rain. He does not do anything the right way, and when a strange family is kind enough to let the man in their car, he understands that it is going to end in tragedy, but he boards the car anyway. Fuckhead explorations through the United States are always narrated from the anamorphic perspectives of a prejudiced mind and sweetly poisoned with all sort of chemical. Drug dealers are almost killing each other, junkies finding love. Denis Johnson presents skewed characters that any reader would beautifully connect with; the plot development is brilliantly done with the plot flowing nicely in every short story.

Trees of Smoke

Trees of Smoke – the title is somehow a metaphor to Denis’ accomplishment with this book, and if the smoke is a stylistic mastery of the prose that author has used, then the tree is would a form a solid, organic story at the core. Johnson has always had a more profound meaning behind his narrative than some other famous American stylists such as Don Delillo.

Trees of Smoke is the story of a spy in training, skip sands, engaged in psychological war against the Vietcong- and all the problems that befall him thanks to his uncle, a war veteran in the intelligence. This is a tale of the Houston brothers, James and Bill, young men who move out of Arizona desert into a war in which the line between delusion and disinformation has blurred away.

In Trees of Smoke, Denis Johnson has created a masterpiece of historical fiction, complex and intriguing tale of the CIA involvement in Vietnam and Southeast Asia in the years before the war. The novel follows Skip Sands, fresh from his training regime that the cultural understanding and language necessary for his vague assignment. The Colonel, also Skip Sand’s uncle has a great deal of blood on his hands and some radical ideas about the use of psychological warfare to depress the enemy. His patriotism is like a load that is crushing massively on his soul, he has a sentimental nostalgia when he starts drinking, but as the alcohol takes control over his body, his rambling takes a twisted turn.

Denis Johnson found in Trees of Smoke the tale that would establish him as one of the famous fiction authors.

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