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Nicaragua 1984
Denis Johnson
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Nicaragua 1984

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  535 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews

Set in Nicaragua in 1984, The Stars at Noon is a story of passion, fear, and betrayal told in the voice of an American woman whose mission in Central America is as shadowy as her surroundings. Is she a reporter for an American magazine as she sometimes claims, or a contact person for Eyes of Peace? And who is the rough English businessman with whom she becomes involved? As

Paperback, 260 pages
Published December 29th 2002 by Christian Bourgois (first published September 12th 1986)
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(showing 1-30)
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J. Kent Messum
When you hear the name Denis Johnson, you inevitably think of Jesus' Son, the book that put the man on the map. But 'The Stars At Noon' is another masterful work from a true talent that should not be missed.

This is a novel about being trapped out in the open; one American woman's paranoid escape attempt from a corrupt country while she tries to stem the erosion of both her sanity and soul. Set in Nicaragua in the 1980s, we experience the story through the main character as she is allowed to exi
Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Actually, the book that really set me straight was Denis Johnson's The Stars At Noon. Johnson is one of those names I've always carried with me, and so one evening when my boyfriend and I were having dinner, and I got an itch to scour the Halfprice Bookstore shelves, when I saw this one title on the shelf, what with its appealing cover and description, and an alluring randomly-read paragraph from the middle of the book, I decided to take it home with me.

Best decision I could have made. I started
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
Το δεύτερο βιβλίο του Ντένις Τζόνσον που διαβάζω φέτος, αν και λιγότερο καλό από το Άγγελοι, σίγουρα καλό γενικότερα. Πειστικοί χαρακτήρες, εξαιρετικές περιγραφές της Νικαράγουας του 1984, με τις φτωχές γειτονιές, το τροπικό κλίμα με την υγρασία, τις βροχές, τον καυτό ήλιο, τα διάφορα έντομα, με τις κόντρες των... Κόντρας και των Σαντινίστας, με τα διάφορα παιχνίδια των Αμερικάνων με το πετρέλαιο και την πολιτική και, τέλος, με τον παρακμιακό σοσιαλισμό με τις ελλείψεις τροφίμων και άλλων ειδών. ...more
Jun 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an odd little book. Everything else I have read by Denis Johnson I have loved. This one, not so much. I saw flashes of the genius with whom I have a huge man-crush. Then again, even with a book as spare as this, I found myself skimming whole passages.
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I usually adore Denis Johnson, but this one just wasn't doing it for me. Shows its age (written in '86) in an unfavorable way. Also, one of the least convincing female narrators I've ever read. (Though maybe that was the point...?)
Joseph Rodgers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Larry Scarzfava
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent novel from Denis Johnson! His ability to create the perilous atmosphere of 1980's Central America and to enable me to relate to characters whose lives are so different from mine is incredible!
Dec 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
three stars by the standards of DJ. if i wrote this i would award myself five stars just for some of the individual lines. sort of a stoned redo of Graham Greene's The Heart of The Matter; white lady adrift in the tropics bumps into another human, experiences something that combines love, sex, and two-way pity. This book feels like practice, but still has crucial moments. Last line is bulletproof "To be put her with his dreams, but not himself, made substance" is about the most beautiful descrip ...more
Chris Gager
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just started last night. As with "Already Dead" the author starts us out with an articulate character with issues of self-destruction. NOT an appealing girl. Typical DJ... great writing applied to a murky purpose.

- Something different for DJ - a first person female voice.

- The New Yorker has a recent article about today's Nicaragua. Sounds pretty much the same.

- DJ's books REALLY tend to focus on max losers. These people have serious problems. A lot of them tied to substance and behavior(prostit
Tyler Malone
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
‘”Only rum is forever.” I agreed.”’

I agree.

This novel is sunstroke on paper. If Cormac McCarty’s Suttree is captured drunkenness, which I would argue this novel has that going for it too, then The Stars at Noon is the dried tongue, manic mindset of a desert wander twenty minutes before her brain stops functioning. If Graham Greene had ever shot heroine and gone on South American bender with in a Volkswagen, he would have written The Stars at Noon, the 1995 novel by Denis Jonson, which takes pl
Feb 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Denis Johnson loves to torture me with despicable characters. Loves it! A lot of it reminds me of the stuff he ran into in various essays from his book Seek. It is hard to relate to the goings on of the plot because of the lack of accountability. The cause and effect is either non-existent or so completely skewed that I find myself scratching my head. The exchanges between the Interturismo, the Sub-tenente, border guards, everyone has some strange control that the characters lack and are able to ...more
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read two of Denis Johnson's books now and for me they both carry the association of a fever dream. They're weird and wonderful and repellent and occasionally hard to follow but are invariably interesting. I've also tried to start 'Tree of Smoke' a couple times but it starts with a scene I find so disturbing that I haven't been able to keep going. This book is about a an American woman in Nicaragua in 1984. It's a little unclear what she's up to down there aside from drinking prodigiously an ...more
Titus Burley
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Certain writers can capture a sense of place so vividly that location becomes a primary character. Such is the case with Denis Johnson's novel The Stars At Noon. Set in Nicaragua during a bloody time of political and ideological conflict between the Contras and Sandanistas, the oppressive environment that drains hope and vitality out of the characters is as palpable as any character in the tale. Essentially it is a doomed love story narrated by an American prostitute who stumbles into a relation ...more
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Have had this one on the shelf for a while, and initially picked it up after I read Jesus' Son by Johnson. Sat down and read the thing in one sitting. Overall I enjoyed the narrative, but it seemed a to drag a little bit at times. To me, the entire book felt like a vivid dream (nightmare?) where there are several distinct settings and people inhabiting those settings, but you're never quite sure how all the pieces fit together, or where you're going next. The writing informs that feeling by refu ...more
Nelson Maddaloni
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of Denis Johnson since reading "Tree of Smoke" and while I'm not giving this book a full 5 stars (due to some repetitive scenes) this was a thoroughly enjoyable read with connections to Orwell and Dante as well as just some plain beautiful passages. I thought this book might be a bore due to the subject matter, but I wanted to give it a shot anyway. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to discover it was a rather brisk and engaging read. A very literary style thriller, if you wil ...more
Mike Polizzi
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Johnson's view of Nicaragua in the Sandanista uprising. As expected-- the writing is exquisite. The plot is tight and moves fast, not waiting to answer questions, but allows the vagueness of the situation to unsettle the reader. The truth is malleable: is the protagonist a former aid worker, turned reporter, turned prostitute, a con artist, or something else entirely. The only thing that seems real-- even in its wartime surreality is Nicaragua.
A number of lines from the book have been excerpted
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
More of a novella than a novel, this is a story of intrigue and squalor in Nicaragua in 1984. It is never quite clear why the central character is there or why the English man she meets is there. Or why anyone is where they are! But they are and they go to some other places and it is all a bit strange. But in a good way! The language the author uses is probably the best thing about the book: it is hard to read about the heat and the filth without starting to feel uncomfortable yourself. I have t ...more
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book beginning to end.
Dylan Alford
Sep 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stories he writes are always secondary to the dialogue and narration...all of his books have a theme of simultaneous damnation, absurdity, and poetic mysticism. I took away lots of great description (Johnson started out as a poet), strange gnostic world view ideas, and a pretty entertaining "story"...this was the last novel by Johnson that I hadn't read, so I'm kind of sad I'm done for now...
Apr 26, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Denis Johnson perfected a swift, intelligent female voice to narrate this book. I liked her very much. Maybe that is why I turned against her when she took up with an Englishman. A dull, interest-demolishing Englishman.

Maybe U.S. authors shouldn't write books about Central America because they're always tempted to describe everything in a frustrated tone. They seem to be drawn to these places for all the wrong reasons.
Gabe Baker
Dec 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Stars at Noon appears to be one of DJ's least read works, and that is a shame. DJ is a very masculine writer, so his use of a female voice takes some getting used to. But once I settled in, I found this tale of the political and moral confusion of a female American journalist and an English executive in Sandinista-era Nicaragua extremely compelling. There is a strong resemblance to Graham Greene's spy stories, but with a harsher edge.
Not the best Denis Johnson book, but still a good tale. I enjoyed the setting immensely. Anyone who remembers the tense moments of the 80's will find it familiar. Anyone who has ever felt stuck in a situation wood no rhyme or reason will also ally with this tale. My favorite quote, "In my homeland, I might have told him, we're trained to rank the presence of uniformed Russians with the coming of the Kingdom. 'They're not supposed to be real'" (p126).
Benjamin Obler
Apr 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Can't say I understood the plot. I think same thing can be said of this book that the NY Times review of his 2014 release. There's dazzling expertise in covert ops, international espionage, a convincing worldliness. Then there's a jumble of Heart of Darkness-type aspirations and uncrackable characters.
Read this twenty-five years ago, so my memory of it is understandably dim. What remains is a powerful impression of how it hit me then. It was feverish and intense and slightly unreal somehow, and I loved it. Really ought to reread it now lo these many years later. Mayhap I will.
Colin Henderson
Lacking understanding of Central American politics in the 1980s hindered my ability to enjoy the book. But Denis Johnson's mastery of language makes up some of the gap.
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who hate jane austen
possibly my favorite book. prostitutes, passports, nicaragua, shady red-headed americans, rum and juice, sweatiness, intrigue, cynicism.
Ben Laussade
Aug 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"He was faceless. But he had a beautiful ass. His bottom was like an upside-down heart filled with the blood of martyrs."
Oct 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm mad at Sonic Youth. The lyrics to one of Kim's Daydream Nation songs are lifted from this and not credited. I could have been reading this many years before. Maybe I wouldn't be so fat now.
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
central american politics and desperation. rather and totally incredible. read it before Salvador by didion and it will two slam you into awareness
Aug 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"He was faceless. But he had a beautiful ass. His bottom was like an upside-down heart filled with the blood of martyrs."
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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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