The Daily


No Sandals Allowed

September 19, 2011 | by

We begin the week with a quote from The New York Times Book Review, where Anthony Doerr reviews Denis Johnson—and compares The Paris Review to a giant rock:

Sometimes, if you wander long enough out-of-doors, you look up and find yourself in a suddenly devastating place: on a glittering slab of granite, say, hanging a thousand feet above a mountain lake. Your blood quickens, the clouds stretch, the light turns everything to gold and something enters you, shakes you, seizes some root of your soul and pulps it. Maybe you make your way down to the lake for a swim, or just sit beneath the sky for an hour, dazzled, but what lasts is the feeling that you have found something important, something precious, something that would be world-renowned if only it weren’t so hard to find.

It’s a proprietary feeling, too, when you find a place—or a song, or a painting, or a sandwich—that you love, that moves you. You want to share it with only a few other souls, believers, maniacs, folks who won’t trample on it. Because who wants to see her sacred meadow flattened by the sandals of tourists?

I first read Denis Johnson's novella “Train Dreams” in a bright orange 2002 issue of The Paris Review and felt that old thrill of discovery ... It’s a love story, a hermit’s story and a refashioning of age-old wolf-based folklore like “Little Red Cap.” It’s also a small masterpiece. You look up from the thing dazed, slightly changed.

Click here to own the bright orange issue in question and here to subscribe.



  1. Mark Klempner | September 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I too have been fascinated by Denis Johnson ever since I heard him read “Emergency” at Cornell back in the 90s. Re: the analogy the NYT Book Review makes, comparing the Paris Review to a giant rock, it reminds me of the Alice Munro story “Access” in which, towards the end of the story, Munro introduces images of a startling rock formation that evoke the same aesthetic response the NYT reviewer so eloquently describes.

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  1. […] collection of short stories), and he became one of my favorite writers. This morning I read a bit of an article by Lorin Stein on Paris Review about Johnson’s work, and the writing was amazing. Stein […]

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