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Train Dreams by [Johnson, Denis]
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Train Dreams Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Length: 125 pages

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Product Description

Review

Praise for "Tree of Smoke"

"Good morning and please listen to me: Denis Johnson is a true American artist, and "Tree of Smoke" is a tremendous book . . . It ought to secure Johnson's status as a revelator for this still new century." --Jim Lewis, "The New York Times"

Praise for "Tree of Smoke"
"Good morning and please listen to me: Denis Johnson is a true American artist, and "Tree of Smoke" is a tremendous book . . . It ought to secure Johnson's status as a revelator for this still new century." --Jim Lewis, "The New York Times"

Praise for "Train Dreams"

"[A] severely lovely tale . . . The visionary, miraculous element in Johnson's deceptively tough realism makes beautiful appearances in this book. The hard, declarative sentences keep their powder dry for pages at a time, and then suddenly flare into lyricism; the natural world of the American West is examined, logged, and frequently transfigured. I started reading 'Train Dreams' with hoarded suspicion, and gradually gave it all away, in admiration of the story's unaffected tact and honesty . . . Any writer can use simple prose to describe the raising of a cabin or the cutting down of tress, but only very good writers can use that prose to build a sense of an entire community, andu

"A small masterpiece...Johnson is as skilled as ever at balancing menace against ecstasy, civilization against wilderness...."Train Dreams" might be the most powerful thing Johnson has ever written."---Anthony Doerr, "The New York Times Book Review""A triumph of spare writing...A gem of a story, set in rough times, in a tough terrain, and tenderly told."---Bob Minzesheimer, "USA Today""The visionary, miraculous element in Johnson's deceptively tough realism makes beautiful appearances in this book....The natural world of the American West is examined, logged, and frequently transfigured."---James Wood, "The New Yorker""A nearly perfect short novel from the most essential writer of his generation."---David Ulin, "Los Angeles Times"

About the Author

Denis Johnson is the author of six novels, three collections of poetry, and one book of reportage. His novel Tree of Smoke was the 2007 winner of the National Book Award in the US.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 202 KB
  • Print Length: 125 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0374281149
  • Publisher: Granta Books (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008LTSUI6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #118,415 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Train Dreams is set in the American West in the first half of the twentieth century when America is moving towards industialisation. This wonderful, one might say, perfect novella tells the life story of Robert Grainier who works as a day labourer felling trees in massive forests to facilitate the laying of a railway network to connect the entire country. The story opens in the Idaho Panhandle and describes Grainier's role in the attempted murder of a Chinese worker accused of stealing from the company's stores. Even though the man escapes Grainier is still upset at his part in the attempted killing.

Grainier works as a choker "down in the woods where the sawyers laboured in pairs to fell the spruce, limbers worked with axes to get them clean and buckers cut them into eighteen-foot lengths before the chokers looped them around with cable to be hauled out by the horses." These logs were then used in the construction of the giant railway bridge across the Robinson Gorge. Grainier is very much aware that the work he does in the forests is hazardous even while the woods provide a livlihood and shelter. Over the course of the book large tracts of American forest will disappear and not just because of industrialisation but also due to a huge forest fire - a fire that has tragic consequences for Robert. I won't go into this in detail as I think it is best left to the reader to discover what transpired.

There isn't any real plot or a continuous storyline, rather the novella is a collection of struggles and minor victories for Robert who comes across as a survivor in a world where death and loss appear to be commonplace.
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By ACB(swansea) TOP 100 REVIEWER on 17 Sept. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Denis Johnson has painted a portrait in words set in chapters describing the life of Robert Grainier from his arrival in Idaho aged 6 or 7 to his death in his 80's. It is as much a novella of the changes in the high-minded, often lonesome Grainier as it is about the changes in the American North-West from the early 1900s to the 1960s.

I was not surprised to find the author is also a poet as his prose and flowing lines read as such. The descriptions of the scenes and situations Grainier encounter are so visually graphic that the reader is virtually present. The storyline is of a man who sets out to spend most of his life working on railway construction, labouring, logging, uncomplaining. Several events affect him profoundly. He believes he is cursed for life by a Chinaman who escapes execution on a railway bridge. A childhood encounter with a 'boomer', a railway hobo, on his deathbed who receives his last drink from Grainier from a boot. The meeting and marriage to Gladys who are taken away with their daughter Kate, after a fire that robs him of his home as well as his loved ones. Grainier never recovers.

He takes on a variety of employment, constantly tortured by the thought that Kate may be 'out there somewhere', following a dream-like visitation from Gladys. The constant train whistles, the howling of the wolves (he joins in their chorus) almost torment him. His conversations, albeit brief, are punchy, especially when taking a man, shot by his dog, to the doctor. Vowing to stay in the place of his calamitous loss following the death under a train of the wise Kootenai Bob, Grainier sticks to his word. A man who had not caught up with or chose to ignore most of the changes in the world around him (he was impressed with the construction of an iron bridge on his travels), his life ended almost as it had begun.

A movingly fixating tale of a man who settled upon his life only to have it tragically affected. Beautifully written.
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Format: Hardcover
A wonderful gem of a book - it beats me why Americans seem to feel they must write 800 page tomes in order to write the 'American novel' when Denis Johnson has accomplished the same thing here in a quarter of the space. If you're a fan of Richard Ford, Cormac McCarthy or any of their ilk this will be a book for you. It was short-listed for the Pulitzer last year and rightly so in my humble opinion ...
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Format: Hardcover
Each short chapter in this short book is highly memorable - probably highly memorable throughout. Railway construction worker, logger, constructor of his own dwelling on the one acre of land he owns, we follow the central figure through tragedy in his personal life, and a degree of recovery.

This will be a very alien life to most readers. The triumph of the book is that we feel: yes this how life is when it is close to the edge of survival.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this after reading many reviews and several mentions for this book in end of year lists. I was not disappointed.

Put simply, this book marks one of the great achievements in modern literature. Epic, haunting, crafted in such a way that despite its short length, it will stay with you forever. I don't want to give too much away and I feel I'd probably just be repeating other reviewers here but you have to own this book. It's an almost perfect work of fiction.
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Format: Paperback
I've read Train Dreams twice in the last fortnight. Once, chapter by chapter. Once in one go. Both ways worked. The book is almost perfect.

I am in awe of the writing. The plotting is superb. The dialogue is sparse but true. The prose language is spare but wonderfully put together. I kept stopping to re-read individual sentences, stunned by the concise evocation of scenes and characters.

The life of Robert Grainier - his fragmented past, his backbreaking work, his marriage and child - is told with a dispassion that manages, although it shouldn't, to engage and grip the reader. It leaps around in place and time, yet remains cohesive and utterly compelling. And the supernatural elements are both shocking and life-affirming.

There is a review on the back cover of the paperback from the Scotsman, which suggests that, if they were eligible for the Man Booker, American books of this quality would be hard to beat. They now are eligible!

This book is published in Britain by Granta, who, on their back cover blurb say: 'This is the story of Robert Grainer...' No it isn't. His name is Grainier. For a book where every word counts, this is shameful carelessness.

Give Train Dreams a go. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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