The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson (2018) There is something about Denis Johnson's fiction that always makes me think it's not only autobiographical in nature, but just straight non-fiction, verifiable truth down to the smallest detail, even when I know it's fiction all along. He's like a magician. I'll end up googling names of characters only to find the only reference to them is people discussing these stories. When I'm really connecting to one of his stories, he's my favorite. I'm really sad that he died. Is it possible someone might discover tons of unpublished stuff? Probably not. I have the feeling that he worked terribly hard on the writing that's presented to us, and there are only so many hours in a day, but who knows? There are a lot of his books I haven't read, at least. Jesus' Son (1992) was a huge book for me, of course. Some of his stuff I don't connect to all, but it's like that with any writer, I guess. I never hear anyone talk about The Name of the World (2000), but I'm kind of obsessed with that short novel, have read it twice, and will probably read it again. I didn't really connect with the middle three stories in this book, but I'll try again sometime. The first one, “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden,” I loved, though, and even re-read it before I finished the book, and I'm going to re-read it again right now. For having read it twice, I can't tell you what it was about or why I liked it so much, but it kind of did something to my brain. I just finished the last story, “Doppelgänger, Poltergeist,” which is another one that made me feel like, “this can't be just out of his imagination, can it?” It's about a professor's friendship with a slightly younger student and poet who has a secret obsession with Elvis' stillborn twin. It's a very weird story—and it resonated with me quite a bit because of several relationships with friends, gone now—I can maybe go into it more in person, if you're my friend, and I'm talking to you over coffee. And I need to re-read this one, too. There is a novel's worth of stuff in this longish short story. It almost has the quality of being a kind of weird epitaph, too, one fitting Denis Johnson. Maybe I re-read to a fault, but I'll argue with anyone that it's worthwhile, re-reading things, and this is especially true with DJ, and I do imagine you'll find one of his books by the side of my deathbed.
Books I've Finished Reading