Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Angels by Denis Johnson

This is Denis Johnson's debut novel, and next to Jesus' Son, it's his best (at least of what I've read). A young mother fleeing her cheating husband meets Bill Houston (who later appears in Johnson's 2007 Vietnam War novel Tree of Smoke) on a Greyhound bus. As the cover copy says, "Together, they make an aimless tour of bus stations and cheap hotels from Pittsburgh to Phoenix, their momentum fueled by booze, rage, and corrosive need, their journey a trajectory that leads inexorably to a moment of shattering violence." Aimless, booze-fueled, violent--these are the words that describe my kind of read. (No, seriously.) It's dark and desperate, and powerfully written. Pretty excellent for a debut novel--or any novel, for that matter.

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