Tara's Reviews > Train Dreams

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
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's review
Apr 20, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012
Read from April 20 to 23, 2012

First of all, I know a guy from Bonners Ferry. He's definitely a colorful individual (Explanation: He was a fellow geology major and in one of our classes, he used to sit in the back and weight lift some of the larger rock samples in the classroom and do push-ups in his chair in the middle of lecture. He now works for a Big Oil company and will make more money in his first year of working there than I will in my first 5 years working in a gemological lab. And if I ever ran into him, he's the kind of friend I wouldn't pretend not to see. I'd say hi and chat for a minute. Good kid.).

Okay, now regarding this little book. In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn't have high hopes. I thought it would be gimmicky and too full of "meaning" at the expense of real quality. I was wrong. Johnson's novella about one man's life in the Pacific Northwest is delightful. Simply delightful. It is a book of opposites. I love his juxtaposition of emotions (I can't give examples without "spoiling" something because it's so short but (view spoiler)). I love how he somehow transitions both smoothly and abruptly from a simple, sweet moment to one of hard reality. I love how he blurs the line of dreams and reality without being hokey. I love how it is both simple and profound. And I love how American it is, plain and simple. It reminds me a bit of Steinbeck (think Cannery Row), just north a bit. This is just good, solid literary fiction.

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