Read it.
November 14, 2007 8:41 PM   Subscribe

Badass motherfucking Richard Johnson has won the National Book Award for Tree of Smoke.
posted by four panels (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Denis Johnson.
posted by four panels at 8:42 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


The editor of Page Six does good work too, don't feel bad.
posted by Falconetti at 8:44 PM on November 14, 2007


Dick Johnson. Hehe.
posted by brevator at 8:50 PM on November 14, 2007


You can't start a post with "badass motherfucking!" You just can't do that. It's as much of a faux pas as holding a meetup at your house or something.
posted by SassHat at 9:03 PM on November 14, 2007


It's a really great book, for sure, I'm a Denis Johnson man from way back: Jesus' Son, Resuscitation of a Hanged Man, Already Dead* are all at eye level on my bookshelf. I'm still working Tree of Smoke over, I'm not entirely sure of my feelings, but it's a really great book and I'm glad he won the National Book Award.

The parts with the LURPS wilding out are particularly exciting and the ambivalence and the enthusiasm (which I think is why Denis Johnson is such a good writer, such a master of ambivalence and enthusiasm) with which he treats every aspect of the motivations behind his characters is masterful.

*I kinda think he should have one for that one.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:05 PM on November 14, 2007


Won, fuck it all to shit, won.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:07 PM on November 14, 2007


Haven't read it yet but planning to...Angels, Fiskadoro, Jesus' Son, and on and on...all wonderful books. Good to see Denis Johnson recognized.
posted by inoculatedcities at 9:23 PM on November 14, 2007


LANGUAGE!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:30 PM on November 14, 2007


jesus cunting christ! Penis Jurgensen won an award!
posted by exlotuseater at 9:34 PM on November 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


There is no evidence Mr. Johnson has sex with his mother. Just stop it.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:36 PM on November 14, 2007


The first I heard of this book was when the Atlantic Monthly tore it apart.
posted by aerify at 9:43 PM on November 14, 2007


Fiskadoro was seriously messed up. But full of post-apocalyptic goodness.
posted by SassHat at 9:44 PM on November 14, 2007


I hadn't heard of this guy - thanks for the heads up.
posted by jonson at 9:46 PM on November 14, 2007


It's as much of a faux pas as holding a meetup at your house or something.

Hey, we had a great meetup at Jessamyn's house back in May. I wouldn't say things like that, Richard SassHat, and get a badass like her mad at you.

I mean Denis SassHat.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:54 PM on November 14, 2007


I had my hopes on Like You’d Understand, Anyway: Stories by motherfucking Jim Shepard, but I'll take cockboy Denis Penisface Johnson for Angels.

Writers should curse and stab their wives more. It should be a requirement for any major literary award.
posted by Skygazer at 10:03 PM on November 14, 2007


The first I heard of this book was when the Atlantic Monthly tore it apart.

That's not a review, it's a fortune cookie written by a ADD suffering cretin with hemorrhoids. I'd be the first to admit this particular book has faults, but there is nothing in that review but a C student trying to score points with snark addicts in 400 words or less, poor show.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:13 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Um, Divine Wino, that review was sure a lot more than four hundred words.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:28 PM on November 14, 2007


Is it just me, or does Terry Gross seem to only be half listening to the people she interviews? And does someone have some good links about Denis Johnson? (I remember reading and liking Jesus' Son, but that's about all I know about the dude.)

Hell, I'll even take some Richard Johnson links, if you got 'em.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:59 PM on November 14, 2007


I'm a big fan of Richard Johnson, Jesus' Nephew, Piskafrofro, Resuscitation of a Drowned Man, Dead Any Minute Now are all eye-level (when sitting on the floor) in my book-shelf. I haven't read his latest, Bush of Smoldering Ash, yet but plan on it after I finish this other thing by this other cat, Ben Johson, written by that dude who was on Charlie's Angels... Boswell.

Never heard of this other Johnson.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:10 AM on November 15, 2007


I love Jesus' Son, Already Dead, and The Name of the World (how have I not read Angels yet?). I didn't even know he'd written something new! Awesome.

And lord, why is the Atlantic so shitty? I haven't read that review yet but man, they outdid the previous month every month I had a subscription.
posted by birdie birdington at 1:53 AM on November 15, 2007


I haven't read Tree of Smoke yet but that Atlantic article makes me want to.

I like Denis Johnson's writing. Maybe he duffed it with this book.

Now I'm really curious.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:05 AM on November 15, 2007


Um, Divine Wino, that review was sure a lot more than four hundred words.

I was trying to decide if I want to blame my browser or cold medicine, but I'm going to go with cosmic rays. I retract my review of that review, of course, and slink off to sharpen my claws for next time.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:19 AM on November 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


Tree is well-written and thought provoking, no matter what some asshole at The Atlantic might say. Michio Kakutani's rave review in the NYT caused me to purchase the book even though I never had read any of Johnson's previous work and don't read much fiction anymore. The opening of the novel is chilling and unforgettable, and sets the tone for its examination of duty, religion and honor against the backdrop of the nightmare of 'Nam. The title, BTW, is from an obscure Old Testament passage.

I am glad to see that Tree of Smoke has received some of the recognition it deserves. I recommend it to MeFites: it may be the literary Apocalypse Now.
posted by rdone at 5:09 AM on November 15, 2007


I was trying to decide if I want to blame my browser or cold medicine, but I'm going to go with cosmic rays. I retract my review of that review, of course, and slink off to sharpen my claws for next time.

Well to be generous maybe you just realized you were going to read the book no matter what so you didn't want to waste anymore time on it or accidentally hit a spoiler.

Either that or those ADD 'roids are a bitch.
posted by Skygazer at 7:05 AM on November 15, 2007


Oh to have ADD, I concentrate so hard it's like a form of distraction. I just somehow only saw the first 400 words and not the rest and the part I saw seemed complete and shoddy. I've already read the book, I like it quite a bit, although I feel it could have done with a sterner editor.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:10 AM on November 15, 2007


Years ago, I had picked up Jesus' Son on a whim, never having heard of it or the author, and it was wonderful. I then read Resuscitation Of A Hanged Man and that was fine as well. I guess college must have gotten in the way of exploring Johnson's work further, but once I get some free time again I'll explore Tree Of Smoke and probably love that, too.

There's something strangely gratifying about having read his stuff years ago, not knowing if he was famous or would ever be famous, and then apparently he kicks ass, takes names, and gets the National Book Award.

Neat! Good for him.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:20 AM on November 15, 2007


One thing baffles me: is Richard's name pronounced 'Denis' (like the Blondie song) or 'Dennis' (as in Gnasher)?
posted by Mocata at 7:21 AM on November 15, 2007


All this talk about Johnsons is making me uncomfortable.
posted by lodurr at 8:06 AM on November 15, 2007


List of Finalists.
posted by stbalbach at 8:50 AM on November 15, 2007


Tree of Smoke was excellent, though I didn't like it as much as Already Dead (which I couldn't wrestle from my brain for several weeks after finishing and highly, highly recommend) . I just finished the finalist list for this year yesterday. Tree of Smoke seemed like it was sort of destined to win from the get-go, just because of its scope and its style and the fact that Denis Johnson is a very talented, very prolific, very well-respected writer that more people should read (or at least read more of than just Jesus' Son), in my humble opinion.

Also, on the short list--Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris is one of the bitterly funny books I've read this year, but I may just being saying that because I also did time in the advertising industry in the waning days of the tech bubble.
posted by thivaia at 12:20 PM on November 15, 2007


I sure wanted to like this book, but I never felt engaged, really. It just seemed like a lot of reeled-off Pynchonian blab -- but w/out the humor. In the end I think the Atlantic reviewer sort of has a point...
posted by It ain't over yet at 6:52 PM on November 15, 2007


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