Train Dreams (2011)- Denis Johnson
Verdict: Read it!
Train Dreams is my third Denis Johnson work to read, and from my experience, at least one thing has become very clear: This man can write! Train Dreams follows common man Robert Grainier through his past, his superstitions, and sorrows in the early 20th century American West. Johnson manages to capture the readers interest from start to finish with language and a powerful vision of the American West. He never goes out of his way to show off to the reader via the dictionary. He doesn’t need to. His prose delights in its simplicity and preciseness. Train Dreams is a wonderfully brief book as well. You wont find yourself wading through insignificant plot points. Everything in this novella is finely compact.
If you like Cormac McCarthy (who just sold his first screenplay!), particularly his earlier work, this is a book for you. If you are put off by McCarthy’s violence, even better. Train Dreams, is much more modest with brutality than any of McCarthy’s works, while still maintaining an authentic southern gothic feel. If you have wanted to read Johnson, but don’t know where to start. This might be the right place for you. Read it!