Train Dreams: Book summary and reviews of Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Train Dreams

A Novella

By Denis Johnson

Train Dreams

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About this book

Book Summary

Robert Grainer is a day laborer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century—an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime.

Suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West—its otherworldly flora and fauna, its rugged loggers and bridge builders—the new novella by the National Book Award-winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This svelte stand-alone has the virtue of being a gem in itself, and, for the uninitiated, a perfect introduction to Johnson." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Fans of the literary end of historical fiction (with a dash of magical realism)... or authors like Bret Harte or Cormac McCarthy should appreciate this one. Highly recommended." - Library Journal

"Johnson draws on history and tall tales to adroitly infuse one contemplative man's solitary life with the boundless mysteries of nature and the havoc of humankind's breakneck technological insurgency, creating a concentrated, reverberating tale of ravishing solemnity and molten lyricism." - Booklist

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Author Information

Denis Johnson Author Biography

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 including a Lannan Fellowship in Fiction in (1993), a Whiting Writer's Award (1986) and the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction from the Paris Review for Train Dreams. He is best known for his collection of short stories, Jesus' Son

His first published writing was a collection of poetry, The Man Among The Seals, published in 1969 when he was 20 years old and enrolled at the University of Iowa, where he was mentored by Raymond Carver.  At 21 he was first admitted to a psychiatry ward for alcohol addiction, having started a lengthy love affair with ...

... Full Biography

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  • Tree of Smoke jacket
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