Robert Grainer is a day laborer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century—an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shock ...more
I refuse to stain this small perfect book with a long review.
This short novel is a dream: the kind you dip into, just for a drowsy second, yet wake from to find youself still immersed in a great epic--wounded by its sorrow, giddy with its marvels—all visited upon you in the blink of an eye.
The story of Robert Grainier, a laborer in the Great Northwest during the first third of the last century, is full of tragedy, tall tales, temporal dislocations, homespun humor, plain-speaking, and supernatur ...more
Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, a novella shortlisted as a ‘Best Book of 2011’ by almost everyone from the New York Times to Esquire, and also considered for the Pulitzer, is a haunting little book that blossoms from the vine of American history. Spanning from the turn of the 20th century up until the late 60s, Johnson positions the reader to watch as the American west is transfigured by the technological growth of the n ...more
It's all here in the perfect, brutal little package. ...more
I sometimes wonder if I'm a natural reader. There are moments, like the greater part of last year, where there's nothing I like more, and whichever book that comes my way will be devoured in short notice. Other times, like the last couple of months, I become more picky, books don't manage to grab a hold of me due to other distractions th ...more
The book's subject is Grainier, and it follows his isolated life in a remote and wild valley in the north of Idaho through a series of episodes that span his long lifetime. It is partly an elegy for the old west and partly a reflection on ho ...more
I first picked up this thin book at at a local bookstore - I was attracted by a single sentence as I briefly flicked through it. I didn't read the blurb or otherwise pre-acquaint myself with the text and I didn't buy it at the time, but the sentence stayed with me and I later bought the Kindle vers ...more
Take Thursday evening, for example. I was on a train finishing a book called A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing. A powerful book, such a powerful book that when I’d finished, I needed a distraction so I took out my iPad to see if I had a book on the ereader app to help me pass the rest of the journey pleasantly. Train Dreams seemed perfect at a little over a hundred pages, and so it ...more
He finds happiness with his wife and infant daughter, bu ...more
A solid story, sad and satisfying, one which might, initially, provoke feelings of déjà vu in those who’ve read A Prayer for the Dying.
An American mountain man, stoic and self-sufficient, enjoys an all too brief period of love and intimacy before tragedy and loss impose, and he’s left to fend for and only for himself. Johnson’s gentle prose resists a stereotype, rendering the protagonist credible and admirable. The inevitable wolf-girl scene defies belief but situates the story in a mythic trad...more
This novella is so atmospheric and dream-like. Trains are an integral part of Granier's life. Orphaned at six he is sent to the panhandle of Idaho to his new family via the Great Northern Railroad. His first memory is of the mass deportation of a hundred or more Chinese families clamoring aboard three open flatbeds. He worked for many years clearing the forests in advanc ...more
― Denis Johnson, Train Dreams
So, I've just read my second great American novella set in Northern Idaho. 'Train Dreams' isn't A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, ...more
This is a superb novella covering one man's life in the American West during the late 19th and early 20th century. He works on the railroad and in the logging camps, then settles in a little cabin in Northern Idaho. The prose is gorgeous, sometimes soaring, but never flowery. The story is too non-specific to be considered historical fiction, but it feels like an authentic depiction of life in that region in that era.
John Steinbeck's darker works are marked by superstition, animism, and ...more
Told in a spare ...more
Robert Grainier is a man without a known beginning—at least, he didn’t know hi ...more
The story of this man (this Country?) is told in sepia-toned, non-linear vignettes. His Asian adventure (if you want to read somet ...more
The main protagonist is a man of good virtue he is on the straight and narrow, due to many things he has witnessed and taking account of. One ...more
And Jonathan Franzen.
And John Updike.
Okay, a lot of writers. But let's add Denis Johnson to that list, which is a damn shame because it wasn't always this way. Jesus' Son and Angels are both great fucking books, visceral and ghostly at the same time. But then something happened, and I'm not sure what, but Johnson became this sudden chronicle of the American mythology. Okay, fine, ...more
Robert Granier is a loner throughout his life. He doesn't seem to be emotional in any way; he goes with the flow. He comes from nowhere; he doesn't know his parents or birth place. It makes for an unemotional story and gives it an aloof feel.
The train is always in the background. I like trains, so this is comforting, in its way. I'm not sure ...more
Novellas can often be underwhelming, there is so little time to be hooked by the narrative, to fall for the characters.
For a good half of this reading I was thinking small, small, small. Tiny splinters aggravating the surface of the imagination.
I think Grainer's wolf howling was the fulcrum and suddenly I was right there amid the charred wilderness, four walls and no roof.
Later as the years unfold and Grainer's bones fist and knot, none of it feels like dying. Some of what goes on stills read ...more
|Goodreads Librari...: incorrect listing.||2||203||May 10, 2018 11:19PM|
|Denis Johnson||1||11||Jun 14, 2017 12:43PM|
|Deep, real reads: Train Dreams||1||6||Jul 28, 2013 12:20AM|
|21st Century Lite...: Train Dreams - Chapter 3 (June 2013)||10||35||Jul 10, 2013 11:26PM|
|21st Century Lite...: Train Dreams - General Comments, Spoilers Allowed (June 2013)||72||83||Jul 04, 2013 03:56AM|
|21st Century Lite...: Train Dreams - Chapter 9 (June 2013)||5||29||Jun 26, 2013 04:52AM|