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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing, beautifully written zen thriller
another gem from the greatest living writer in the world. california redwood forests, new age mysticism, wannabe suicide rescued from water, rolling fog, comic hitmen, a witch, father-son torment plus johnson's trademark, simple, stark prose style which just rolls and riffs on one ghostly, poetic sentence after another. the structure is flawless, the switching of...
Published on 9 Jun 2000

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tough Guys
Not sure what Johnston was up to here. The similarities to Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance are huge: marijuana patches, seances, spirits, adultry, murder. Paying homage? Except the setting is the west coast instead of the east. The results are the same; is this the point? Really enjoyed it though. Amazing that he took more pages than Mailer!
Published on 16 Aug 1999


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing, beautifully written zen thriller, 9 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Already Dead (Paperback)
another gem from the greatest living writer in the world. california redwood forests, new age mysticism, wannabe suicide rescued from water, rolling fog, comic hitmen, a witch, father-son torment plus johnson's trademark, simple, stark prose style which just rolls and riffs on one ghostly, poetic sentence after another. the structure is flawless, the switching of voices and use of flashback well executed...this novel has it all...quite brilliant.. -Nick Johnstone
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tough Guys, 16 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Not sure what Johnston was up to here. The similarities to Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance are huge: marijuana patches, seances, spirits, adultry, murder. Paying homage? Except the setting is the west coast instead of the east. The results are the same; is this the point? Really enjoyed it though. Amazing that he took more pages than Mailer!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not His Best Work, 6 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Already Dead (Hardcover)
DJ is in Jesus Son at the top of his game, his prose angellic, his stories compelling and concise. Already Dead starts out strong but it is as if DJ has not yet mastered the long form. His sprawling plot twists into itself and the main characters like Fairchild and Van Ness become less interesting. Frankenstein is the only character who remains strong and original. Most people who have never read his other stuff might be impressed by his impressive turns of phrase, but unfortunatley Already Dead like Resuscitation of a Hanged Man turns out to be ill-concieved and at its best a beautiful mess. But I have faith DJ will turn out a simple novel similar to Jesus' Son, b/c poetic clarity and concise story telling is where his power lies.
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3.0 out of 5 stars ...robbing poker games or attending a transvestite wedding...., 27 Dec 2012
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Already Dead (Hardcover)
There is so much to love about Denis Johnson's creative writing. And then again I found too many disappointments in this rambling, disjointed, overpopulated novel. When he is on form he is unbeatable, but this is a thickly distorted tale about a group of men and their women living in coastal Northern California on land owned by the main protagonist Nelson Fairchild, his son Nelson Fairchild Jr, and brother Billy, and Clarence Meadows, one among the few expecting to luck out when the marijuana stash in the mountains is gathered in.

To start with the strengths of the book, here is an excerpt from the moments when a dust-storm descends on the road: "Moving forward in first gear, Meadows decided he could travel on in this fashion indefinitely, groping ahead blind and strangled. Which was fine except it resembled too closely life in general.
"Again on his left he passed two cars stopped in a kind of embrace the huge intimacy of which he felt almost embarrassed to be witnessing. It didn't look too serious an accident. The cars owners stood out on the median, one man scrutinizing the wrinkled bumper of his vehicle, and the other craning, searching the little limit of visibility for... and then Meadows was past and the whole thing absorbed by an amber twilight, sucked up as by a sponge."

I love his creative work absolutely, and he uses his gifts indiscriminately, as in the following: "The door shut behind him and Meadows pondered the question as he stood alone before the squad of urinals, the sound of his piss jingling in a great and terrible and enchanted holy silence." It is almost enough, to be reading this kind of weighted, but beautifully delicate and decorated prose, but the story here is slow - a cold freight train of past and failed relationships, a scrabble of present ones, but in the end it is too disjointed, too fractured a story, too much in love with the sound of its own voice, although actually, there are too many voices and they often sound exactly alike. For Johnson at his best, I would recommend the short story collection Jesus' Son., or the novel Resuscitation of a Hanged Man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars His risk-taking best, 9 Dec 2008
By 
Jim O'Donoghue (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Already Dead (Paperback)
This was the first Denis Johnson novel I read and, Tree of Smoke and all, for me it is still the best. It is hard to know where to start with a novel in which everything is done so beautifully. For one thing, DJ seems to have a particular affinity for the California coastline he describes. The landscape is always alive and changing, full of rolling mists and sudden losses of visibility. For another, the central characters - while they are enigmatic, to say the least - have a strange and magical clarity to them. But most of all, this is a novel that takes extraordinary risks and comes up with a solution to them all. There are so many disparate elements, bizarre motivations and mystical visions, as well as the ranges in register between the comic criminal types, the wonderfully flaky hippies and the beautiful drunk who stands at the heart of the book. The narrator rambles as well as Kerouac but somehow, at the same time, keeps it as tight as the Delillo of White Noise and The Names, although the closest direct comparison would probably be Pynchon's Vineland. The denouement is like an optimistic American riposte to Dostoyevsky - and the whole thing is full of subtle humour and a generosity of spirit.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, Original, 7 May 1999
By A Customer
One of the best books I have read in the last year or two. Six stars.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A book tht didn't excite me but still slightlly interesting, 22 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Denis Johnsons Already Dead is a very not interesting read for me although it did have some exciting topics, from drugs, to witch craft and everything else that is evil in between. The only problem was that the murder,and violence didn't come about in a hair raising way but maybe for other people it might do a little more. Despite all that the characters are brought to you in a way that it seems like you have known them all your life. All in all though the book is alright not one of my favorites but definitly not the worst i've read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful book, 26 Mar 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Already Dead (Hardcover)
Anyone who says that this "might be the worst book I have ever read"... is definitely on crack... Johnson's style has only gotten more refined over the years... he is at the top of his game. This is a beautiful book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic poetry, 10 Oct 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Already Dead (Hardcover)
Not as intriguing as his short stories or even his poetry, but it still is an amazing book, nonetheless. Denis Johnson is an amazingly gifted poet, and this book is the epitome of "a novel written by a poet." The book starts out fairly conventionally, and has the reader hoping for a gothic look at the underbelly of Northern California (where I suspect he has spent little time). But it's not too long before you realize that things are going to get a bit screwy.
Demons, possession, channeling are all normal here, and Johnson tries to pull off a story that can combine such fantastical themes with the reality of everyday life in a rural background. He doesn't do that so well. While some of the New Age and demonic passages are truly inspired, most just take away from the amazing language and ideas that Johnson creates throughout the text.
"Already Dead" is not equipped with an engrossing plot or developed characters (who knows which demon is really in possession of which character anyway?) The novel's plot is pretty much wrapped up in the first 200 pages or so. But Johnson can do remarkable things with words, and this novel is certainly evident of that. I know that I'll be ridiculed for doing so, but I kinda look at the book as an extended prose poem (I know that the story is based on a song or poem by someone.) And despite the fact that I knew what was going to happen (or what had already happened?), it kept me involved and left me truly breathless.
All in all, a inimitable look into the creative imagination and skill of one of today's best poets.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I was "Already Dead" by the time I finished, 24 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Johnson at times has a poetic voice and something of a flair for atmosphere, but 448 pages of lowlifes doing drugs, practicing dime-store witchcraft and plotting murders? This was borderline unreadable. I persisted, waiting for some great truth to emerge from the jumble of contrived plot developments, but after a few hundred pages I was ready to dive off one of those bottomless Pacific cliffs Johnson is always rambling on about. A very disappointing read.
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Already Dead
Already Dead by Denis Johnson (Hardcover - Aug 1997)
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