17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2003
If you've read any Denis Johnson, you'll know the author has an incredible way with language and a particular gift for describing the so-called 'misfits' of American life... addicts, drop-outs, loners, and drifters. This, his first novel, published in the early '80s, is about two characters. Jamie is a single mum with two small kids who ditches her husband and catches a bus across America. She soon meets Bill Houston, an ex-con and alcoholic, and while they fall in love, their alliance throws them onto a troubled path leading to crime, substance abuse, and tragedy. Their story takes place amid bus stations, neon-lit motels, Bible-bashing smalltowns, and lonely highways.
As always with Johnson, there are moments of pure grace in mood and language, as well as twists and turns, and a pretty downbeat (if compelling) ending. 'Angels' is rawer than his later work (Jesus' Son, The Name Of The World--his best books in my opinion) but it is still a gripping and thoroughly original novel. Denis Johnson is one of the most underappreciated American writers of the last two decades, and if you enjoy the Beats, Ray Carver or Hemingway, he is a writer you really should read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2013
IF you are considering whether to or not.........DO !!
It made me laugh out loud and get some 'looks' on the train. In England, if you laugh on the train people will look at you funny. So, it helps if you have a book in your hands!! This is the one to have. So black and poignant and brilliantly written! Awesome in parts. The beginning feels like REAL life - like the other Denis Johnson I've read, Jesus' Son - then the middle section which is into David Lynch territory, then the last half which is getting back to very harsh reality which is where I'm up to now with it. Cant wait to get on my commuter train and carry on reading !! Very highly recommended. Brits cant write like this! (I'm British - I wish I could !). If you like Harry Crews et al - you'll dig this book.
on 9 April 2015
Why the rave reviews? This is drivel. It's rare that I leave a book unfinished but this one beat me by page 100. This book fails to engage, entertain or inform. And I can forgive even all that if the author's got some magic way with words whereby nothing much needs to happen to retain your attention. But this book has zero attributes.
What you get is mother of two leaving her husband and setting off with her kids on a Greyhound bus. She meets a fellow waster. He wanders off. She attempts to find him. The first person she meets in Chicago knows him. Someone looks after the kids - who've been miraculously quiet - while mum experiments with pills. And, er, that's about it. There's no humour, no telling turn of phrase, no searing insight. Just a dull empty vessel. And yet it has rave reviews. A full bag of Emperor's New Clothes if ever there was one.