Dennis Johnson left us with his best ‘sea girl, Largesse’
No one has written like Dennis Johnson. No one is close. The author of a book like the son of Jesus and the tree of smoke is a hardcore minimalist who can use one sentence to say what other writers can’t say in the chapter. His stories and novels embraced the darkness, but reluctantly; He refused to avoid brutality, violence and despair. He was his last breed, and he was a breed.
Johnson died of liver cancer last may, but it was his first collection of short stories in 25 years before she finished Largesse, a sea girl. According to his publisher, this is the last book we’ll see from Johnson, and its hell is one of the best books he has ever written.
The series begins with a title story about a man who began his calculation in the early 1960s by losing a friend and his career in advertising. He found himself thinking about mortality: himself and his family, especially his life partner: “Elaine: she’s small, light, smart. Gray hair, no makeup, a good mate. The next second – she may be dead. ”
When he went to New York to accept his engaged in television advertising awards in many years ago, when he thought of the necessity of the recession, and how the passage of time can be cruel, how to improve: “I noticed that I have in the past time live longer, than I had expected live longer in the future, I still have more to remember is that I have to look forward to that memory disappear, don’t have much time in the past, I don’t mind forget many things more”. It’s an amazing story, of course, dark, but not oppressive.
Even darker is the “starlight of Idaho”, a series of letters from the California rehabilitation center patient cass. Cass came from a rough and bumpy family with an illegal history (” I mean this is not a family, they have a coat of arms on their chest… My big brother is someone in Texas who won’t let him have a pair of scissors. “). With the progress of the story, cass are at the mercy of drug side effects, he began to treat his alcoholism, he is more and more desperate, halted a letter addressed to god: “I’m sorry, I have to burn off the page, write an article ask god, where are you? What do you think you’re doing, man? We’re here, here, here, hey, you know what? ”
The story was as bleak as anything Johnson had written, but his portrayal of cass was almost unbearable. Johnson treated cass with compassion, but never patronize him; His anti-hero voice was both beautiful and realistic. At least a glimmer of hope at the end of the story: “I am to every one in my heart has a hook the lucky winners to write, when your heart race, I feel a little bastard, just a little no matter you like it or not, that is love. “
It is easy to speculate that Johnson sees the world as a prison, and that all of us are fortunate and troubled, repentant and unrepentant, just like the wayward angels trapped inside.
The remaining stories in the collection explore similar themes. “Victory in the grave” follows a writing professor in Austin, Texas, who helps care for a sick colleague and dying friend. The last two sentences are shocking. They feel like information to the reader. It’s hard to read, especially after Johnson’s suicide.
In the story of “killer” Bob Johnson seems to be for his work provides a key – not just the story, but a young man nicknamed dink (book, he can understand, but in everything he has written. “When I was in there, I want to know whether the place is an intersection of the soul,” dink said thoughtfully, “it makes me feel everyone’s really small universe, no more a county jail, he again and again encounter the same prisoner… I think they may not be human, but naive angels. ”
It is easy to speculate that Johnson sees the world as a prison, and that all of us are fortunate and troubled, repentant and unrepentant, just like the wayward angels trapped inside. Of course, we’ll never know that’s what he meant. We’re left with this miraculous book, these perfect stories, from one of the world’s greatest writers. As one of his characters put it: “in the past, most of my remains are imaginary.”