Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden” as Want to Read:
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  3,838 ratings  ·  611 reviews
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is the long-awaited new story collection from Denis Johnson. It follows the groundbreaking, highly acclaimed Jesus’ Son. Written in the same luminous prose, this collection finds Johnson in new territory, contemplating old age, mortality, the ghosts of the past, and the elusive and unexpected ways the mysteries of the universe assert themselv ...more
Hardcover, 207 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Random House
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Largesse of the Sea Maiden

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,838 ratings  ·  611 reviews


Filter
 | 
Sort order
Angela M
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The reason I wanted to read this collection is because of how much I enjoyed Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams . After finishing this collection of 5 stories, I initially rated it 3.5 stars feeling that some of the meaning had escaped me . But as I’m writing this and thinking more about it and the writing, I have to give it 4 stars. The writing is good and I liked three of the five stories so I’ll comment briefly on those .

My favorite is the first story titled as the book. Bill Whitman, an “ad man”
...more
Larry H
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm between 3 and 3.5 stars.

"It doesn't matter. The world keeps turning. It's plain to you that at the time I write this, I'm not dead. But maybe by the time you read it."

Denis Johnson's last short story collection, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden , was published about eight months after he died from lung cancer at the age of 67. That fact certainly adds a feeling of melancholy to the collection, even when he isn't writing lines like the ones above. It's also a fairly dark book about facing mort
...more
Robin
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Not only had I never read Denis Johnson before this, but I'd never even heard his name before. How's that possible, to live my life, talking books with whoever is willing, not to know of this exceptional writer?

This collection is comprised of five sizeable short stories, written in a style that is conversational, meandering, unsentimental and poetic. These stories touch on the tricky business of living and dying, relationships, the absurdity, randomness and beauty of life, our unknowing and unkn
...more
Debbie
What is the loudest thing you’ve ever heard? What about the quietest? This collection of short stories starts with a party scene where people are wracking their brains for memories. I want to be at this party! For a second, I forget about the book as I race down memory lane, wondering what I would come up with if someone asked me these questions. Seriously, these are delicious things to ponder! Already this writer has me in the palm of his hand.

Funny, I was dreading this book. First off, what’s
...more
Diane S ☔
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another literary icon has passed, leaving us with this his offering. Five stories, each longer than your usual shorts. The first, the title story, concern a man who works in advertising, he is nearing retirement, and he tells us in short vignettes about his dead or disappeared acquaintances.

All these stories grapple with death in all its different permutations. They oftentimes feature lives that have lost their way, their control of their future. My favorite was triumph over the grave. Where a
...more
Perry
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Denis Johnson's Sirenic Stories, Visionary Tumulus at Sea

Once in a while, I know my lexicon is insufficient to give a book all due accolades. That, or I'm speechless from its hypnotic effect, or I'm worried I don't have time to write a review succinct enough that a potential reader will read it and be persuaded to read the book ASAP. Right now it's all of the above, so I borrow from others who've more experience and who were paid to review this Absolutely Brilliant book. Thus, below are the best
...more
Cheri
” Gravity is working against me
And gravity wants to bring me down

“Oh, twice as much ain’t twice as good
And can’t sustain like one half could
It’s wanting more that’s gonna send me to my knees

“Just keep me where the light is
Come on now, keep me where, now, keep me where the light is”

--Gravity, John Mayer, Songwriters: John Mayer

”It’s plain to you that at the time I write this, I’m not dead. But maybe by the time you read it.”

Not having read anything by Denis Johnson before this, and now having f
...more
Nat K
”I note that I’ve lived longer in the past, now, than I can expect to live in the future. I have more to remember than I have to look forward to. Memory fades, not much of the past stays, and I wouldn’t mind forgetting a lot more of it.”

What an amazing platform GR is! Without it, I’d have been none the wiser, and would have been oblivious as to the existence of the writings of Denis Johnson. And what a shame that would’ve been.

There is something quietly haunting about these stories. Each one is
...more
Angela M
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The reason I wanted to read this collection is because of how much I enjoyed Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams . After finishing this collection of 5 stories, I initially rated it 3.5 stars feeling that some of the meaning had escaped me . But as I’m writing this and thinking more about it and the writing, I have to give it 4 stars. The writing is good and I liked three of the five stories so I’ll comment briefly on those .

My favorite is the first story titled as the book. Bill Whitman, an “ad man”
...more
da AL
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear Mr. Johnson,
I sure wish you hadn't died yet so that you could write a whole bunch more short stories to make me swoon over your brilliant themes, your every other sentence that are quotable mini-masterpieces of intelligence and wit.
My condolences to you and yours, as well as my fellow lovers of fine literature, plus those prefer to read crummy stuff.
By the way, whoever selected the audiobook narrators is a genius. Nick Offerman, Michael Shannon, Dermot Mulroney, and Will Patton lift each ta
...more
Bianca
Had it not been for some GR friends raving about The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, I wouldn't have come across this short stories collection.

I'm also grateful to the public library system for purchasing this book.

First of all, I loved the writing.

As it's the case with most, if not all, short stories collections, I enjoyed some more than others. It's fair to say that the first three stories were my favourites - The Largesse of the Sea Maiden and The Starlight on Idaho and Strangler Bob. My enjoymen
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This posthumous story collection by Denis Johnson is my first time reading him, but it won't be the last. Most of the people who have more experience in the group where we are discussing this prefer collections like Jesus' Son, but I'll have to wait to weigh in on the comparison.

I chose the audio for this collection because of the narrators, so I will discuss both the story and the narrator. Overall, the stories are manly manly stories, but often about lessons learned, lives lived, endings and g
...more
Ron
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Below I touch on the five short stories, which are anything but short in meaning or feeling. Two hundred pages can be read in a day, but who would want to rush these? Life is funny and also tragic. These stories can be both, equally.

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden - This first story consists of individually named short stories connected by a single character. It reads like snippets of jointed time, or periodic days, plucked from the memory of this one man's life. Each are very different, surpri
...more
Trish
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’d never read any Denis Johnson before this, though of course I knew of his work. I thought I had endless days to finally show my appreciation.

A GR friend describes the eponymous first story as if watching a magician at work. That story is actually a set of very short stories, each so well-conceived and trimmed of fat that worlds are conveyed in a sentence. Perhaps he could have been a lyricist; another GR friend says he was a poet “first and foremost.” Yes.

Both these GR friends cite that firs
...more
Neil
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The thing is, if, like me, you have read nearly all of Johnson’s novels, there is something about his writing that means you feel like you know him. I know that’s not true and I know that the "him" I know probably isn’t Johnson in truth, but the honesty and rawness of what he writes makes you feel that way.

This means that reading a book of short stories published posthumously (he died in May 2017) turns into a very emotional experience. Especially when that book talks a lot about death. And even
...more
Jill
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing gift it must be to take instances of everyday life and infuse them with lyricism and meaning.

Denis Johnson, in this posthumous collection, expands on this head-on in a story that is appropriately titled, “Triumph Over The Grave.” His narrator confides, ‘Writing. It is easy work…Whatever happens to you, you put it on a page, work it into a shape, cast it in a light.”

For those who have ever tried their hand at writing—I count myself among them—it’s evident that writing is anything
...more
Trudie
* 2.5 *

Hmmmm... I don't know if I need to belabour the point too much but I simply didn't connect with this short story collection.

Objectively, I can see this is quite "literary" and original writing. There are great lines of dialog and a thoughtful contemplation of mortality. For me it was like a literary version of jazz, all weird dissonances and long improvised rifts seemingly taking us miles from the original path. I might have enjoyed that eclectic style more if I could have rustled up som
...more
MJ
I feel I've discovered Denis Johnson much too late in life, that said now that I have I can't get enough... Johnson's writing style is so effortlessly poetic, improvised and almost experimental at times, yet perfectly orchestrated and genuine. Jazzy beats are always playing in the back of my mind as I read his words. The Largess of the Sea Maiden is Johnson at his best, mature and polished... Five memorable stories, each brilliantly narrated and put together. As a whole this collection is quite ...more
Lee
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Set in Bodoni Bold, the same old familiar typeface as Jesus' Son, this collection of five longish stories feels like the career-ending bookend that it is. He wrote these stories while alive but now he's not -- the second-to-last story, an autofictional one about a writer friend dying on a hundred-acre place out somewhere south of Austin, not tying-up his robe, seeing ghosts, ends perfectly like this: "The world keeps turning. It's plain to you that at the time I write this, I'm not dead. But may ...more
Doug
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5, rounded up.

First off, let me preface things by reiterating that short stories, those amuse-gueule of the book realm, are not really my forte. And that the only other Johnson I've read is his OTHER highly acclaimed collection of stories, 'Jesus' Son', which I also didn't particularly appreciate. So sadly, I must just state that Johnson and I are not ever going to be a good match, and I just don't 'get' what others see in his rather prosaic tales of the downbeat and derelict - although I am p
...more
Ken
Five stories, the final ones, from a great talent, Denis Johnson. Yes, I preferred Jesus' Son, but that's the proverbial "tough act you'll never follow," as they say of runaway successes.

In this collection, I liked "Triumph Over the Grave" (#4) best. The middle prison story, "Strangler Bob," did little for me, and the topic of the last, "Doppelgänger, Poltergeist" is not my favorite -- Elvis Presley -- so I was a lost lamb to begin with.

That said, glad I read it, and said to see Johnson go.
Katie Long
This is my first Denis Johnson and I’m guessing this may not be the best place to start. There is some undeniably gorgeous writing here, but I had a hard time caring about any of it. Somehow it felt as though there was a wall between these characters and me.
Dax
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Johnson was a poet first and foremost, and it shows in his fiction writing, particularly so in this impressive collection of five short stories. Clearly, Johnson imagined life as an attempt to navigate the darkness and pitfalls that are inevitably encountered on one's path through this world. This theme is the connective tissue that binds these five stories together, and coupled with Johnson's talent for imagery and perfectly crafted sentences, I was left shaking my head in wonder and jealousy. ...more
Douglas
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2018
Read this if you want to be sucker punched in the face and the pain in your jaw is howling that you’re alive and it’s time to wake up and be present.
Krista
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, short-stories
Three Rules To Write By

Write naked. That means to write what you would never say.

Write in blood. As if ink is so precious you can’t waste it.

Write in exile, as if you are never going to get home again, and you have to call back every detail.

Denis Johnson

Having died in 2017 of liver cancer, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden will be Denis Johnson's final release; a collection of five short stories, two of which were not previously published elsewhere. I loved this collection, but am having a hard tim
...more
Truman32
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I first became aware of Denis Johnson from his seminal short story collection, Jesus’ Son; his National Book Award winning novel, Tree of Smoke; as well as his perfectly timed (and downright nasty) passes to Larry Bird that eventually brought the championship banner back to the Boston Garden after the 1984 Finals.

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, published posthumously, is Johnson’s return to short stories and it is sensational. If you are going to read this gem of a book I would suggest you inve
...more
Claire
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-harder-2018
I’ve delayed reading this for awhile for a number of reasons, chiefly that I love Johnson, and know this is his last new book, and secondarily the mixed reviews I have read. In the end, I was reminded while reading this collection of why I love Johnson; his writing. Johnson is expert in measured use of language. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is a collection of meditative stories. Each is an examination of mortality and fate, that questions what we do with our lives, and how does our use of this ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Five lengthy short stories, each one, a gem. Denis Johnson, who died last May, deserved every accolade he received during his lifetime. Numerous awards, prestigious shortlistings -- the list of honors continue to accumulate, to be capped by this extraordinary collection. As I've said, each story which may have roots in Johnson's own life stands on its own and has been summarized elsewhere. If I had to pick one, it would be the Triumph Over the Grave. Impossible to know where he was in his diagno ...more
Rae DelBianco
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This one was a soul changer. I love Denis Johnson's work with all my heart, and this one, as his posthumously released short story collection, was an emotional one both in concept and content. It fully lives up to anticipation— the moments of emotion and human truth that we find in the heightened plot points of his earlier work are presented more conversationally here, in the same measure, but reading feels like sitting down with an old friend rather than the technicolor whirlwind of Jesus' Son.
...more
Christian Paula
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read it already. If this is your first Denis Johnson, or the last, this is a knockout collection. I may not have cared for some of the stories, but the man could fucking write.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions - The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson 2 12 Nov 20, 2018 02:30PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Page count 2 16 May 07, 2018 05:40AM  
  • Your Duck Is My Duck: Stories
  • Last Stories
  • A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me
  • Worlds from the Word's End
  • Bad Dreams and Other Stories
  • A Lucky Man
  • Wait Till You See Me Dance
  • Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work
  • Eveningland: Stories
  • Baby, You're Gonna Be Mine: Stories
  • The Emerald Light in the Air
  • Vampire in Love
  • The Collected Stories of Machado de Assis
  • Divorcer
  • Aetherial Worlds: Stories
  • The Return
  • New American Stories
  • Something Is Out There
1,241 followers
Poet, playwright and author Denis Johnson was born in Munich, West Germany in 1949 and was raised in Tokyo, Manila and Washington. He earned a masters' degree from the University of Iowa and 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, th ...more
“Three Rules To Write By

Write naked.
That means to write what you would never say.

Write in blood.
As if ink is so precious you can’t waste it.

Write in exile
as if you are never going to get home again, and you have to call back every detail.

Denis Johnson”
6 likes
“It's plain to you that at the time I write this, I'm not dead. But maybe by the time you read it.” 5 likes
More quotes…