Melanie's Reviews > Jesus' Son

Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: favourites

To find Rick Bass's words of praise in the opening pages, speaking about this great 50,000-volt kick thrill of a book, I knew that this would be just the thing to cure my reading inertia. I'd followed a Carson McCullers novel like a dream into the rabbit hole, shrunk and dreamed until This One woke me like a cruel Queen. Consider me awake.

Not unlike characters from the early works of McCarthy, the faces that come in and out of focus in Denis Johnson's fictional world are victims of their own misfortune, unravelling fast, doing sad and cruel things and all the while saying & thinking beautiful and stupid things. The central character / Narrator wanders stoned, drunk, high & wretched into the most sublime heart-territory. When he's not prophetic he's outlandishly funny.

The book is necessarily short at 133 pages, any longer and I might consider its beauty gratuitous.

Lastly, I can't help but feel that the author sneaks in messages to his readers:

"It was raining. Gigantic ferns leaned over us. The forest drifted down a hill. I could hear a creek rushing down among rocks. And you, you ridiculous people, you expect me to help you.


"Talk into my bullet hole. Tell me I'm fine".
20 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Jesus' Son.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

April 1, 2012 – Shelved
November 26, 2012 – Started Reading
November 27, 2012 –
page 29
18.13% "29 pages of perfect prose. Wow."
November 28, 2012 –
page 83
November 29, 2012 – Shelved as: favourites
November 29, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Toby (new)

Toby Hearing all of this praise for Johnson recently is making me wonder if I missed something when I read Nobody Move or if it was just a dramatic change of style for him.

Melanie Well this is my first and certainly I'm keen to read more. What I really want to get my hands on is his poetry collection titled: The Incognito Lounge. Found a few of the poems online and I'm hooked!

Melanie Toby, I think you're right on the money - other reviewers of Nobody Move seemed to feel short changed too, I'd say Jesus' Son is a whole other Beast and well worth a go.

message 4: by Toby (new)

Toby Thanks. After Nobody Move wasnt amazing i passed up Tree of Smoke. I'll wait for your review before going back to it as its quite massuve.

Melanie Massive - I've got such a lot of massive books I keep putting off, oy.

message 6: by Toby (new)

Toby I decided that 2013 will be the year of the massive book. I will put them off no longer.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Read Angels before Tree of Smoke for full effect. Several characters in Angels play important roles in Tree of Smoke. While ToS takes place before Angels, there is an unsettling resonance that comes from reading Angels first .

Melanie Thanks for that Anthony, I have Tree of Smoke but will source & read Angels first, good plan

Mariel Your review is fantastic.

Melanie Thank you Mariel

Steve 50,000 volts sounds about right. I just finished this one myself and am still feeling the kick. Coincidentally enough, I had just read Carson McCullers before this one (like you, if I understand your opening paragraph correctly). You captured both experiences so well!

Melanie Thanks Steve, strangely the book I'm reading right now reads like Carson McCullers & Dennis Johnson combined, I don't know how I'm going to review it

Steve That sounds like a challenge, Melanie. I'll have to check back to see how you handle it. Sounds like it could be Southern fried -- like our chicken sometimes.

back to top