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by Denis Johnson

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Author: Denis Johnson
ISBN: 0394532252
Language: English
Pages: 209 pages
Category: United States
Publisher: Knopf (August 12, 1983)
Rating: 4.4
Formats: txt mobi mbr doc
FB2 size: 1704 kb | EPUB size: 1836 kb | DJVU size: 1805 kb
Sub: Fiction

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Denis Johnson writes some really dark stuff, even for noir. but aside from one incredibly horrible interlude in Chicago, I could not connect with her. Some authors can write from the perspective of or about a character of the opposite gender, but sadly, Denis Johnson isn't one of them. At least for me. I do know that he had struggles early in life - in his mid teens - Jamie and her kids should have just stayed in Oakland.

Denis Hale Johnson (July 1, 1949 – May 24, 2017) was an American writer best known for his short story collection Jesus' Son (1992) and his novel Tree of Smoke (2007), which won the National Book Award for Fiction

Denis Hale Johnson (July 1, 1949 – May 24, 2017) was an American writer best known for his short story collection Jesus' Son (1992) and his novel Tree of Smoke (2007), which won the National Book Award for Fiction. He also wrote plays, poetry, journalism, and non-fiction. Denis Johnson was born on July 1, 1949 in Munich, West Germany. Growing up, he also lived in the Philippines, Japan, and the suburbs of Washington, .

A CIP catalogue record for this book.

This is Denis Johnson's biggest and most complex book to date, and it. .Angels tells the story of two born losers.

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. Jamie has ditched her husband and is running away with her two baby girls. Bill is dreaming of making it big in a life of crime. From the award-winning poet and novelist-a must-have collection of his four previous books of poetry plus a selection of new, unpublished work.

ANGELS (1983) was Denis Johnson's first novel, but it's the fourth of his books that I've read, and, like the .

Among other honours, his novel Tree of Smoke won the 2007 National Book Award and was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, and Train Dreams was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. Библиографические данные.

Leonard English, a sad and intense young man recovering from a suicide attempt, comes to Provincetown on Cape Cod to take a job as a disc jockey-cum-private detective.

She and Burris had been eating up those pills of his. It ran in the family. It ran in the family -8 juice with vodka in it. In the pitiless downpouring light of afternoon, Jamie’s aura was plainly visible to Mrs. Houston as an atmosphere of haze surrounding her, and Mrs. Houston caught her breath

their experience, strength, and hope.

their experience, strength, and hope. I accused her as though her prayers had really worked the change: What did I do to you that you had to condemn me to life? GRAHAM GREENE, The End of the Affair.

This is about two men who meet on a Greyhound bus heading East from California. They both have a little money to burn so they decide to do it together. And so begins a stunning, tragic odyssey through the motels, sleazy bars, bus stations and mental wards of the dark side of America.
Comments (7)
watchman
There are a handful of powerful episodes in Denis Johnson's debut novel, ANGELS. Among them is the 5:00 a.m. execution at the Arizona State Prison Complex at the end of the novel. The episode begins with a description of those who had come in their campers, motorcycles, and pick-ups and gathered across the highway from the prison to "seek warmth around the fire of murder". They were "mostly the very people who'd be incarcerated here tomorrow, goodtimers in sleeveless sweatshirts and teeshirts vulgarly inscribed ('The Itty Bitty Titty Committee')--slogans without meaning, transmissions into space--Honk If You Know Jesus and National Rifle Association bumper emblems nearly effaced by wind-driven sand--the children grubby and crew-cut, the women splayfooted and rubber-thonged--where were the young ladies apparelled for tennis, apparrelled for golfing? Where were the outraged owners of the establishment? The bankers, the people with tie-pins and jeweled letter openers and profoundly lustrous desks of mahogany, the workers of all this machinery of law and circumstance? * * * The truth was * * * that they had enough to keep them occupied. They were busy, complete people. They didn't need to come here in the dark night to seek warmth around the fire of murder or draw close to the ceremonies of a semi-public death."

The angels of the novel are the down and out, the human debris of America. Those who travel cross-country in a Greyhound bus. Those who sell their plasma for lunch money. Those who habitually seek the blurring of reality, whether by alcohol, pills, or heroin. Those who live on a "curbless street lined with wheelless hotrod automobiles on cinderblocks". And those who seek comfort and meaning in the wackier, Satan-dominated efflorescences of Christianity.

As John Steinbeck described the Okies of the 1930s, Denis Johnson describes the flotsam and jetsam of America circa 1980. Five of them are front and center. One is Jamie Mays, who fled Oakland for no certain destination with her two young children after she found, late at night, her husband sneaking out of the nearby trailer home of her best friend, clad only in panties. The other four are the Houstons of Phoenix, Arizona: Mrs. Houston, seventy, originally from red-dirt Oklahoma, her second husband in the state pen, living from one Social Security check to the next, dutifully reading the Bible and seeing fortune tellers and trying to use their utterances to make sense of the world; and her three sons -- Bill, Jr., James, and Burris, who usually go their separate ways in one sort or another of alcohol- or drug-induced fog, but who team up under the direction of a criminal mastermind to rob the Central Avenue First State Bank in broad daylight. And that's when their lives really start going down the crapper. (The four Houstons also appear in Johnson's "Tree of Smoke", although there it is about ten years earlier in their lives.)

Most of us would tend to regard the characters who populate ANGELS as sorry losers. The special merit of the novel is to reveal their humanity without glossing over their sorriness . . . and to suggest that perhaps they are closer to the truth.
Nayatol
Earlier in 2018, I was on a bit of a Southern gothic horror reading kick. A book that popped up on a couple of suggested reading lists was ANGELS by Denis Johnson. I also discovered this book mentioned when I was doing some Internet research on David Foster Wallace. In addition, in some of the summaries of the book it mentioned that it was a road trip novel of horrific proportions and since I was planning a road trip later this year, it intrigued me. So, with all those recommendations I picked up a copy of the book to read.

Jamie Mays takes her two young children with her on a bus to run away from her husband whom she discovered was cheating on her. She's headed for her sister-in-law's (Pittsburgh? or Philadelphia?, I forget which) to start a new life. On the bus, she meets Bill Houston. Bill is several years older than Jamie and is an ex-Navy man, divorced husband, and ex-con. He takes a liking to Jamie and she to him. She never makes it to her original destination and finds herself living in hotels with Bill until his money runs out. He goes to Chicago. She follows him there. Something horrible happens there. He eventually finds her and they travel back to Bill's hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. There Bill meets up with his two younger brothers and another man and they plan a bank heist. However, the heist doesn't go anywhere as planned and things go horribly wrong. Bill kills a guard and is sentenced to the gas chamber. In the meantime, Jamie has become a drug addict and finds herself committed in an institution where she undergoes all kinds of things from waterboarding to shock therapy. That pretty much is the story.

Denis Johnson was a good writer. His writing style captures and embodies every line of desperation and despair that resonates throughout ANGELS.

However, with that said, ANGELS really isn't that good of a book. Not only that, but the book is not a piece of horror fiction as I was led to believe and it's really not a travel novel either. When I picked up ANGELS, I thought I would be reading a horror story set on a bus where a demon was in disguise as a person and was prompting otherwise good people to do horrible things. But, no such luck. There's very little traveling that takes place (most of the traveling is skipped over in flash-forwards) and other than what happens to Jamie in Chicago, there really isn't any horror either. To me, the book reminded me of some of the trash I had to read in college for certain college professors who liked to require us to read "modern novels" that were "grim" and "brutal." I realize that there's a certain reading audience that enjoys those stories (such as stories by Raymond Carver, whom Denis Johnson studied under), but I'm not one of them. I enjoy stories that are actually good stories: stories where there's either interesting plot, interesting characters, character development, or some mixture of those. ANGELS has none of those. Bill Houston is the most interesting character in the book, but we really don't know much more about Bill at the end of the novel than we do at the beginning. Although he's sent to the gas chamber, outside of his physical appearance, he's the same man that we met on the bus to Pennsylvania. While in prison, we see semblances of a man attempting to forge something out of his life and impending death, but in the end, all that Bill Houston's death sentence does is give a child molester a chance to escape the same fate and live in prison the rest of his life.

Besides all that, I have to admit, I have no idea where Johnson got the idea for the title of his book. There are no angels anywhere in ANGELS (the closest thing to angels in the whole novel are Bill's mother and his defense attorney, Fredericks). There really aren't any demons either (although the rapists in Chicago could possibly be seen as that). To me it seems like Johnson decided that he would title his novel on something that had nothing to do with it and chose ANGELS.

In short, if you enjoy the works of Raymond Carver and other authors who wrote meaningless, dark and despairing fiction, then ANGELS is something you might enjoy. The writing is good, but the story is not. The book is not a piece of horror and it is not a piece of travel fiction and really has nothing to do with angels, good or bad.