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Le nom du monde

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,598 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
Michael Reed, cinquante-trois ans, est un être à la dérive. Il a perdu sa femme et sa fille dans un accident de voiture. Il erre dans une mélancolie et un détachement que certains confondent avec la sagesse. C'est une jeune et séduisante étudiante en art, Flower Cannon, qui va commencer par l'intriguer. Leurs deux errances se croisant, l'homme mûr se prend au jeu de l'amou ...more
Paperback, 170 pages
Published September 7th 2000 by Christian Bourgois (first published 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,414)
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Tony
Mar 08, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-lit
The protagonist of this slim novel, Michael Reed, is currently a history professor in a Midwestern college. His wife and young daughter have died in an auto wreck. He’s somewhat numb. He meets a young (20ish) woman who is, well, exotic. Her ‘name’ is Flower Cannon. He’s drawn to her but not sure exactly why; maybe sexually but not exactly. The plot gets a little dreamy. He winds up with her ‘at her place’ which is like an abandoned school away from anywhere else. She asks him, unexpectedly, “Wou ...more
Alex V.
Feb 23, 2013 Alex V. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Denis Johnson took the flattest of dull, male fantasies - the flailing, lonley professor gets in a spell-casting match with the wild, arty, enigmatic co-ed - and managed to fold it into mental origami, sense and even time folding back on itself into a flower. It is about a girl named Flower, in fact, and he makes that work, too. The creases in his folding of reality don't exactly line up at the end and the resulting flower of a story is shimmeringly and organically imperfect for it. And its just ...more
Nicholas Montemarano
Second time reading this novella, and: even better. It's a strange, wonderful book. Strange in that the narrative wanders, Johnson seems merely to be following his narrator, Mike Reed, wherever whim takes him; but where it takes him tends to be interesting (this is Johnson, after all). The novella contains several amazing set pieces: a scene in which Reed follows a much-younger woman he knows only slightly but is fixated on (her name, wait for it, is Flower Cannon) to a religious sing-along that ...more
Erinn Batykefer
Okay, so The Name of the World is basically a classic hero's journey -- call to action, resistance to call, aid from the supernatural (in this case Flower Cannon), resurrection and rebirth. It's set in an unnamed Midwestern town, at an unnamed Midwestern university, and the protagonist, Mike Reed, is one of those do-nothing professors at the end of his appointment: a white, middle-class man of privilege with the luxury of wallowing in his own grief over his family's death. Flower Cannon is an ar ...more
Ben
Dec 22, 2009 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novella reads like an extension to Jesus' Son, Johnson's volume of short stories. It is a return to the spiritual geography of the Middle West. The characters are off kilter and damaged--strangers even to themselves. The plot turns more and more unhinged (without feeling too causation dependent). And still, this book made me laugh several times.

One of Johnson's genius strengths is to make very dissimilar themes seem suddenly inseparable. He has a poet's sense of movement, and a child's del
...more
Tracy
Nov 12, 2007 Tracy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quick-reads
i really liked johnson's description of college life, especially since it is from an outsiders POV. it has been a long time since I had read something that just keep me going on the writing alone w/out the story pulling me along.

that said, the final flower cannon scene in the book is a total mistake and letdown. in fact, the whole character of flower is a cliche and doesn't fit in here in this spare book that is only vulgar and obvious when she is around. otherwise, it's fresh and exact and wor
...more
Karson
Jul 22, 2012 Karson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sheri
Boring and artful. I am as interested in a good character piece as anyone else, but this was just not even a character piece. It was a dreamy-landscape of semi-sensical ramblings by a hard to like main character. It was pretty, but it was also pretty dull.

However, Johnson does have some great insight and wonderful ramblings (such as his description of his deep relationship with the security guard at the art museum...with whom he has never actually spoken): "Exile, detachment, paralysis, fear--al
...more
Jason Lewis
Jul 06, 2007 Jason Lewis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: old men, young girls
Oblique in that great Denis Johnson way, but not hipster prophetic like Jesus' Son. Older, sheltered man who's experienced a loss has a moment in time in a college town. Interesting turn in the narrative focus 2/3s of the way through, great, compelling, engrossing scenes, but the ending falters a little and doesn't pay off the way that the book wanted it to. Love it though, warts and all. Made me want to keep reading and I was involved with the characters.
Sandy Jiang
I was actually disappointed. I felt like this author is one of those hit or miss and for me it was a huge miss. Not only did it lack a plot but I disliked the characters. it had a very Farewell to Arms feeling- 2 people who get together but it's like just conversations and them just hanging out but no driving thing that makes each character grow and change and then conclusion, and maybe it's I hate stories where there are no developments but these characters really had no development as the book ...more
Paul
Mar 07, 2015 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are two decent short stories buried in "The Name of the World" - one about an amateur stripper contest at a low-rent casino in the Midwest, and one about a middle-aged man's erotic encounter with a mesmerizing (but in reality utterly impossible) art student half his age. Both are the kind of vivid, gritty, vaguely stoned narratives at which Johnson excels. Unfortunately, he ties them together with an indifferently written novella about an emotionally detached adjunct teacher in an unnamed ...more
Donna
Mar 12, 2014 Donna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: treadmill-reads
The only reason this book is not on my Abandoned book shelf is that it was only 120 pages long and easy to hold when I read it while on the treadmill. Reading "The Name of the World" made me realize how dependent I have become on PLOT. The faint plot here is: what is to become of a bereaved widower as he completes his four-year teaching assignment at a non-descript (of course) Midwestern college. Even the book's black humor is only a very pale grey. When the main character, Michael Reed, stumble ...more
daniel
Apr 21, 2009 daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it wouldn't be claiming too much to say that as i sat there holding in my fingers mr. hicks's list of head-injury victims i felt the stirring even of parts of me that had been dead since childhood, that sense of the child as a sort of antenna stuck in the middle of an infinite expanse of possibilities. and childhood's low-grade astonishments, its intimations of a perpetual circus... meeting, at random, kids with small remarkable talents or traits, with double-jointed thumbs, a third or even a fo ...more
Stacey Falls
Jul 16, 2013 Stacey Falls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a lovely book where nothing really happens. full of poetry and overflowing with love for the world. our narrator begins to pull himself out of his lowest lows. still in the throes of desperate sadness, he comes to the point where he begins to feel again. in that way the pain is healing.

pain can be your salvation. suffering is a reminder of all the joys available to experience. that feels like a good lesson for me right now.

one question i have for anyone who has read the book: why is flower's st
...more
R.
Mar 28, 2016 R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Seems to be just a publish-or-perish contractual obligation effort, but there are great moments of both humor and poetry in this short novel - but what gets me hot is how it seems to paint with effortless numbers and connect with bright dots the late-90s complacency and directionlessness of the United States (the U.S. here is portrayed as a non-tenure-tracked academic, a long-grieving Godless widower) and, at the very end, Johnson predicts the boom-and-rush of post-911 America: all pride and ind ...more
Danny Lindsay
Jul 20, 2015 Danny Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first hundred pages of this novel are hypnotic and darkly funny. It's a lot of fun to read about a guy who doesn't care what happens to him. The final twenty-five pages, however, disintegrate into bizarre magic realism and gonzo reportage. I have no idea what the hell happened. It's as if Johnson wrote the last bit ten years after the first bit and couldn't remember what happened. The voice changes entirely. Also, I bought this book because I thought the title was really beautiful and evocat ...more
David Koh
Mar 10, 2016 David Koh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vivid, jarring, perhaps a bit overly introspective for my taste. Ranging from near-poetic to utterly frank. Reads almost as a conversation with a very distant, very thoughtful person.
Amy Eickmeier
Mar 12, 2016 Amy Eickmeier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent. Cleverly avoids all the cliches you expect. Has a very nice line on page 47 that gives the most accurate description of rap music I've ever read.
Christian Schwoerke
I first read this novel immediately after reading Jesus’ Son, because I was curious to see how Johnson constructed a conventional narrative. It’s a short novel and I’ve read it again (Jan 2016), just after finishing Donna Tartt’s much longer novel, The Goldfinch. The two novels have several points of convergence, but the chief irony for me was the appeal to art’s redemptive and liberating qualities in The Goldfinch, which were rendered in a verbal torrent of vague, albeit conventional language. ...more
Tuxlie
Jul 21, 2015 Tuxlie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

The acclaimed author of Jesus' Son and Already Dead returns with a beautiful, haunting, and darkly comic novel. The Name of the World is a mesmerizing portrait of a professor at a Midwestern university who has been patient in his grief after an accident takes the lives of his wife and child and has permitted that grief to enlarge him.

Michael Reed is living a posthumous life. In spite of outward appearances -- he holds a respectable university teaching position; he is an articulate and attractive

...more
Chris Gager
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sini
Feb 17, 2015 Sini rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Denis Johnson staat bekend als een kameleon omdat elk boek weer totaal anders is dan al zijn andere, en als een beestachtig goede stilist die helaas veel te weinig wordt gelezen. Ik ken zelf ook lang niet al zijn boeken, maar wel zijn overweldigend-groteske Vietnamboek "The tree of smoke", ruim 600 geniale en ongehoord spectaculaire bladzijden dik, en de prachtige novelle "Traindreams", krap 90 verstilde bladzijden die rijker zijn dan menige roman. Sterker nog, er staan zinnen in die beter zijn ...more
Rayroy
May 24, 2013 Rayroy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story of a college professor's last year at college in the midwest,while trying to get over the death of his wife and daughter, finds himself lusting hard over a hot and pertentiuos redhead art student . I have a thing for redheads but found myself liking Flower but not loveing her, like it be fun to have a fling with her but she would bring too much drama to the table, I tend to date women like Flower,if it weren't for pertenious baristas I'd never get laid.
David Schwan
Mar 26, 2013 David Schwan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written book. The main character is overcoming the death of his wife and daughter four years earlier. He is a faculty member at a college hoping to be employed for another year. His career has been mostly ordinary except a period as a staff member for a notorious US Senator. He meets a much younger women--a lady with a unique personal story. The two are like ships passing in the night.
Jen Shipon
Mar 18, 2013 Jen Shipon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Constantly gobsmacked by the beautiful, delicate language. Denis is a master of articulating the tiniest feelings and sensations in ways that make the reader feel them intimately, even if s/he has never experienced that particular emotion before. This is why I don't even care where his books go - although they always do end up somewhere.
Lisa
Dec 05, 2013 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Started off a bit slower than Jesus' Son and at first I didn't think I liked this book as much, but, then in came some of Johnson's amazingly beautiful prose and all was good in the world. This guy is magic!!
Debra McQueen
Apr 02, 2016 Debra McQueen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading Denis Johnson's book NOBODY MOVE, I believed him to be a simple crime noir writer, a contemporary upgrade of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. THE NAME OF THE WORLD showed me that Johnson is so much more, and clarified for me why he is considered "one of the most astonishing writers at work today." With beautiful prose, a heavy gloom, and just the right touch of humor, Johnson gives us Michael Reed, a man who can't quite get in touch with his grief, who can't quite care about w ...more
Lisa
Jun 26, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Denis Johnson novel -- I thought I'd start with a short one before diving into something like "Tree of Smoke."

It's the story of a burned-out, middle-aged professor at an unnamed Midwestern university still dealing with the loss of his wife and child several years earlier in a car accident. It's not an academic satire, though there are some funny/scathing observations. I was afraid it was going to turn into the cliche of nubile young student banishes demons of schlubby older ma
...more
Alison
Sep 13, 2014 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm feeling ambivalent on this one. On the one hand, the writing style took a while to draw me in, even though the book is short it took me forever to pick up a good pace with it because the language didn't come easily into my brain for some reason. On the other hand, the descriptions of how the main character, Mike, feels were completely accurate and made even more beautiful and haunting by how they were brought to light through Mike's viewing of art and interacting with random characters. Plus ...more
Colleen
May 02, 2015 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't expecting anything when I read this 129 page book. It looked like it might be easy to get through after reading a Mario Vargas Llosa book that was deeply disturbing. The story of Mike Reed starts off describing the life of a bored history professor at some tiny Midwestern college and his alienated social life among colleagues who are as adrift as he. Around page 100 he connects up with a young artist who tells him a story that jolts him out of his rut and then he's off running. Like Mur ...more
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Poet, playwright and author Denis Johnson was born in Munich, West Germany in 1949 and was raised in Tokyo, Manila and Washington. He holds a masters' degree from the University of Iowa and has received many awards for his work, including a Lannan Fellowship in Fiction (1993), a Whiting Writer's Award (1986), the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction from the Paris Review for Train Dreams, and most recently, ...more
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“When I reached the street I didn't know whether to go right or left. Soon I'd have to start acting like a person who cared about what happened to him.” 10 likes
“...I felt the stirring even of parts of me that had been dead since childhood, that sense of the child as a sort of antenna stuck in the middle of an infinite expanse of possibilities. ” 6 likes
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