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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A long, moody bus ride of a book.
These are the stories like Raymond Carver would write if he had this kind of vision and gift with words. Johnson is a poet, turned prose writer. His novel, Fiskadoro, is a feat of imagination; he conceives a new, post-apocalypse world and he invents a new vocabulary and syntax to go with it. This collection of short stories is even better. And don't sniff at the...
Published on 4 Feb. 1997

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good stuff
As a fan of simply written stories I found the writing occasionaly a little too 'evocative' for my stripped bare tastes! All the same the book was an engaging read and made me curious to read other novels by Denis Johnson as well.
Published on 21 April 2008 by Dillinger


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A star shines for everyone, 9 Oct. 2006
By 
S. Lewis (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Jesus' Son (Paperback)
My journey to this book travelled from Chuck Palahniuk to Amy Hempel, both incredible writers capable of transmitting emotion and atmosphere in their work.

This book delivers this beautifully, a sometimes painful image of life some readers may not get the point at first, but luckily its the kind of book you'll read over and over again.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Heroin: it's my wife, and it's my life, 11 May 2014
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jesus' Son (Kindle Edition)
Jesus' Son is a collection of interlinked short stories, setting out the young adult life of an American man as he drifts between girls, jail and the next fix of smack. The opening story finds our anti-hero hitching a ride, having a vision of death coming to the family that gives him a ride. At this point, one wonders whether our anti-hero might actually be Jesus' Son - actually have some kind of deity status. But future stories confirm that he is only human, named, presumably, after a line in Lou Reed's Heroin.

The stories are atmospheric, creating a window on America's underbelly. The characters are all real people and demonstrate complex emotions - no mean feat in stories that are only half a dozen pages long. They are violent, but there are also moments of compassion, of rationality, of decency. The stories sort of piece together into a story, told in non-sequential chunks, as our anti-hero progresses from youth to adulthood. But along the journey, some of the immediacy is lost. The barroom fights and drunken night-time drives are far more interesting than settling down with the girl.

And a further issue is that, even though there is a narrative progression, it starts to feel samey after a while. It would be interesting to see how a writer of such obvious talent could manage a novel where the option of restarting every few pages was no longer an option - where pacing was necessary.

I would read more Denis Johnson but, perhaps, not for a while...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 19 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Jesus' Son (Kindle Edition)
Quite simply one of the best things I've read. A work of astonishing power, vision and heart. A must read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Find this book and read it, 24 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Jesus' Son (Kindle Edition)
I was recommended this book at least 2 years ago and took my sweet time getting round to buying/ downloading it. Shame. Short stories, harsh, uncomfortable, outside my comfort zone but brilliant and encompassing. Unlike anything. Clear and fresh. Metal not wood. Your life will be enriched by this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Religion and dope, 2 Dec. 2007
By 
Joe Cutts (Sheffield, south yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jesus' Son (Paperback)
Meandering through a minefield of metaphors, obscure similies and thought-provoking observations, Jesus' Son takes the reader on a trek through the dark and, at times, seedy past of the hero, known only as F*** Head - presumably Mr. Johnson's former self before turning his hand to writing. A bleak and at the same time nihilistic journey of an American drifter, down the path of lost hope and self destruction. Denis Johnson's prose is filled with a sensitivity which somehow manages to bypass sentimentality and is both irritating and sleazy, yet somehow beautiful and awe-inspiring. For these stories alone (somehow his other works seem to fall into the banal category of "another novel by...") Mr. Johnson should earn his place alongside other American greats. Amazing work.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Johnson a master of the short-story, 12 April 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Jesus' Son (Paperback)
Denis Johnson's "Jesus' Son" is a wonderful collection of short stories that contains two masterpieces of short fiction: "Car Crash While Hitchhiking" and "Emergency." Other memorable stories in this selection are "Dirty Wedding" and Beverly Home." While it is rumored that the former head of the Stegner creative writing program at Stanford, has said that Johnson's work does not qualify as "moral fiction," such criticism is irrelevant. While I have no idea what Johnson's background is besides his also being a poet, let me assure you, Johnson is not one of the creative writing school guys and gals churning out boring mood pieces for Masters of Fine Arts dissertations. While this work would not qualify as transgressive fiction and lies just a needle-length to the east of the "South of No North" of Charles Bukowski, there is the rawness and vitality of real life here, of the alky, the junky, of the fuck-up, the part-time pervert, of the loser that is really quite wonderful in that it has clearly been earned and is honestly observed. Johnson's dialogue is superb; check out the exchanges in "Emergency" for a primer on how to write dialogue truly. Not only is Johnson's dialogue true in the sense of it capturing the rythms of the way people speak, it brilliantly evokes their inner state of mind by revealing their evasions. And, being a poet, Johnson has an impressive command of metaphor that is never false. Wonderful writing. Don't take my word for it: Johnson is the only writer volunteered by Saul Bellow himself as worth reading in his recent "Playboy" interview.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Oddysey, 12 Aug. 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Jesus' Son (Paperback)
A collection of thematically linked short stories is often the goal of young writers, especially writing program writers; apparently there's something appealing about saying your collection is "meant to be read as a novel"--i.e., even if you are not able to write a sustained work of fiction, even if you're capable of writing only sound bites, you can still qualify as a novelist if you write a lot of sound bites about the same thing and give them separate titles. See, for instance, anything by Sandra Cisneros.

Johnson has produced something altogether different. These stories are less stories than visions, and the resulting collection is less a pseudo- or quasi-novel than an epic--albeit a diffuse, fragmented epic with many of the battles and escapades forgotten or omitted. The overriding question that begins each new story is, "How did he get there?" That fragmentation is at the heart of the book and makes the experience similar to listening to Bob Dylan's 1974 album, "Blood on the Tracks." Fuckhead's experiences are as frightening, spiritual, and desperate as those of Dylan's narrator in such songs as "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Shelter From the Storm." Johnson gives us a new kind of poetry, a new kind of prose, a new way of story-telling, and a new way of putting it all together in "Jesus' Son."
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars When I'm Rushing On My Run..., 20 Nov. 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Jesus' Son (Paperback)
and I feel just like Jesus's Son. Thus goes the line from "Heroin", by the Velvet Underground, the song from which Denis Johnson borrowed the title for this interconnected connection. The title seems to be not the only Velvet-like trait here. The writing is spare and moody, banging away again and again at themes of physical, mental and spiritual isolation. But for some reason, Johnson doesn't strike the chord with the same intensity as the Underground. There is nothing wrong, per se, with the language. It is, in fact, finely crafted at many points, but overall, it just doesn't do it for me. Johnson's work reminds me of that of Dennis Cooper. If his topics click with you, then yahoo, you've got a lot of solid work to read, but if it doesn't, then perhaps you should start packing your bags, because the scenery doesn't change much. Copious amounts of drug abuse and affectless sexual unions abound, and the tone here is that of a dark back country road. Hope shines dimly and infrequently, like lights way off in the distance.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the loveliest books in the English language., 9 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Jesus' Son (Paperback)
_Jesus' Son_ follows you around like a small, black dog: short, spare, deadpan, dream-like, it is, more than anything else, a catalog of the most beautiful sentences, all put to the service of documenting the random detritus at the bottom of some sort of American Dream, that have been strung together in English since--I don't know, early Hemingway?
_Jesus' Son_ is one of those books that changed the way I looked at the language; if pressed, I might be able to think of higher praise, but it's unlikely.
It's not a depressing book, it's a beautiful book. I don't care about what it's _about_; I care about what it _says_, and it says things in a way that, again, no other author writing in English can approach. It's that new, and that good.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my god, 4 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Jesus' Son (Paperback)
these people crack me up. this was one of the most hillarious books i've read. if you do by the book take special notice of one of the short storys titled "dun dun" and tell me his point was not to plummet you into laughter. these people take themselves WAY to seriously this book was very VERY funny and should be taken that way
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Jesus' Son
Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson (Paperback - 6 Sept. 2012)
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