Posts Tagged ‘Denis Johnson’
June 14, 2012 | by The Paris Review
Last night, our kickoff event at the Strand was red-letter. We laughed (at Amy Warren’s masterful channeling of Dorothy Parker), we cried (at Wallace Shawn’s interpretation of Denis Johnson’s “Car-Crash While Hitchhiking”), and we marveled at the winner of our Strand-Paris Review tote-bag design contest (submitted by Houston’s Roque Strew). Did all the free wine have anything to do with these emotional reactions? We prefer to believe it was due to the overwhelming talent!
June 8, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
Mark your calendars! This coming Wednesday, June 13, join The Paris Review and the Strand for the first of a series of literary salons.
In addition, we'll unveil the winner of our tote-bag contest.
Wednesday, June 13, 7 P.M.–8:30 P.M.
The Strand Bookstore, Third-floor Rare Book Room
828 Broadway at 12th Street
Admission: Buy a copy of the current Paris Review or a $15 Strand gift card.
Please note that online orders require payment at the time of checkout to guarantee admission.
April 20, 2012 | by Lorin Stein
Nothing against Swamplandia! or The Pale King, but we can‘t help wishing the Pulitzer Board had gotten its act together—and chosen Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, the novella that appeared in our Summer 2002 issue. That would have been our first Pulitzer! As it is, it’s our first Pulitzer nomination. Train Dreams made its original appearance alongside fiction by Aleksandar Hemon and Mary Robison, interviews with Ian McEwan and Louis Begley, plus a radio play by Rick Moody ... and we have a few copies in mint condition. Buy yours while supplies last.
December 1, 2011 | by John Jeremiah Sullivan
Last year the writer Denis Johnson came to Wilmington, North Carolina, where I live, for a conference. Ben George, who edits the magazine Ecotone and was hosting him, graciously asked me to tag along. There were memorable days. Granted, I would file a trip to Food Lion with Denis Johnson under fairly interesting life events. Even so ...
It emerged that Johnson had been fascinated by Venus flytraps since childhood, and Wilmington happens to be the one place in the world where those strange carnivorous creatures grow wild (or at least where they’re truly native: the nutrient-starved coastal soil made them turn to insects for food). We took him to an actual flytrap preserve, behind an elementary school, where you walked on narrow paths through bright green clusters of the plant. You could bend down with a pencil and touch their little hairs, causing them to snap shut. The speed of it made us jump back. We touched only a couple, though, because once an individual trap has clamped down, it can never open again.
The point is, after this excursion, we went to a barbeque joint downtown called Parchies. In the Cape Fear country, and throughout the piedmont of the state, we have this unusual kind of barbeque, which uses a light vinegar sauce instead of the red stuff and tastes totally different than what you expect if you grew up west of here. Strangest of all, it’s served with the coleslaw on the sandwich, right on top of the barbeque. Sounds vile, but when you eat it with a side of finger-shaped hush puppies, you feel that the coronary episode this meal will trigger at some unknown moment down the road makes for an even trade.
Johnson grew visibly excited, waiting for the food. He told us that he had some roots in Carolina and that once, when he was very young, his grandparents had taken him to a barbeque place somewhere in the country and bought him a sandwich. He’d never gotten over the memory of this sandwich. It was perfect. In his mind it had become the ur sandwich. Every barbecue sandwich after it, even the good ones, had been on some level a mockery.
“Hey,” Ben said, “what if this is the one? What if you've been remembering this piedmont-style all these years, and now you're about to reexperience it? Is that a good thing?”
Enter expectation, pressure.
The sandwiches came.
He lifted his and bit into it. Read More »
September 19, 2011 | by Lorin Stein
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.
June 10, 2011 | by The Paris Review
Last Saturday I caught a midnight showing of John Cassavetes’s Faces. Shot in LA in the mid-sixties, Faces is a movie about sex, booze, and aging—or, you might just as well say, about the faces of John Marley, Lynn Carlin, Seymour Cassel, and Gena Rowlands. It is absolutely sad, absolutely tender, and absolutely unsentimental. You won’t cry, and for days you won’t be able to get it out of your head. Not, at least, by reading The Pumpkin Eater (1962), Penelope Mortimer’s fictional account of her marriage to Rumpole creator John Mortimer: “We didn’t love each other as most people love: and yet the moment I have said that I think of the men and women I have seen clasped together with eyes full of loathing, men and women who murder each other with all the weapons of devotion.” —Lorin Stein
I’ve been enjoying Caroline Preston’s ingenious The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, a novel made up entirely of vintage images. It’s nifty and fun—but the plot moves along, too! —Sadie Stein
Jon-Jon Goulian on Robert Silvers, venerable founding editor of The New York Review of Books: “A man who can field a call like that with such composure is a man, you might say, whose head is still full of marbles, and yet that would leave open the possibility, inconceivable to me, that Bob might one day lose a few. That leaves only one alternative: Bob’s head contains one giant marble, one only, and you will have to behead him to make him give it up.” —L. S.
Maybe the summer is provoking more wanderlust in me than usual, because this week I read two novels about runaways. First up was Robert Walser’s Jakob von Gunten. I moved on to Denis Johnson’s Angels. Reading it late at night in the immensely humid heat and borderline-nonexistent light of my tiny bedroom seemed to underscore every bizarre and frightening episode of Johnson’s book. —Natalie Jacoby
Prior to reading Terry Castle’s collection The Professor: A Sentimental Education, I was only familiar with her jaw-dropping Sontag reminiscences—but I’m sorry it took me so long: all her essays are that funny, pithy, and unexpected. —S. S.
Wesley Yang’s remarkable n+1 essay about Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter at the Virginia Tech massacre, is now available as a Kindle single. —Thessaly La Force
On the lighter side, I recommend our Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, on how to survive Disney World—minus the fear and loathing. —L. S.
A George Plimpton video game? —T. L.