Excerpt from Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Tree of Smoke

A Novel

by Denis Johnson

Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 624 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2008, 624 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


To the young Asian, Sam said, "Sir, we’re hospitable as hell. But generally Philippine military aren’t served here."

"Lucky’s from Vietnam," the colonel said.

"Vietnam. You lost?"

"No, not lost," the man said.

"This guy," the colonel said, "is already a jet pilot. He’s a South Viet Nam Air Force captain."

Sam asked the young captain, "Well, is it a war over there, or what? War?—budda-budda-budda." He made his two hands into a submachine gun, jerking them in unison. "Yes? No?"

The captain turned from the American, formed the phrases in his mind, practiced them, turned back, and said, "I don’t know it’s war. A lot people are dead."

"That’ll do," the colonel agreed. "That counts."

"What you doing here?"

"I’m here for helicopters training," the captain said.

"You don’t look hardly old enough for a tricycle," Sam said. "How old are you?"

"Twenty-two years."

"I’m getting this little Slope his beer. You like San Miguel? You mind that I called you a Slope? It’s a bad habit."

"Call him Lucky," the colonel said. "The man’s buying, Lucky. What’s your poison?"

The boy frowned and deliberated inside himself mysteriously and said, "I like Lucky Lager."

"And what kind of cigarettes you smoke?" the colonel asked.

"I like the Lucky Strike," he said, and everybody laughed.

Suddenly Sam looked at young Seaman Houston as if just recognizing him and said, "Where’s my rifle?"

For a heartbeat Houston had no idea what he might be talking about. Then he said, "Shit."

"Where is it?" Sam didn’t seem terribly interested - just curious.

"Shit," Seaman Houston said. "I’ll get it."

He had to go back into the jungle. It was just as hot, and just as damp. All the same animals were making the same noises, and the situation was just as terrible, he was far from the places of his memory, and the navy still had him for two more years, and the President, the President of his country, was still dead—but the monkey was gone. Sam’s rifle lay in the brush just as he’d left it, and the monkey was nowhere. Something had carried it off.

He had expected to be made to see it again; so he was relieved to be walking back to the club without having to look at what he’d done. Yet he understood, without much alarm or unease, that he wouldn’t be spared this sight forever.

Excerpted from Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. Copyright © 2007 by Denis Johnson. Published in September 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Smoke
    by Dan Vyleta
    In Dan Vyleta's universe, set in an alternate Victorian England, people engaging in sinful thought ...
  • Book Jacket: Golden Hill
    Golden Hill
    by Francis Spufford
    Spufford brings American history to raucous life through the story of Mr. Richard Smith, a ...
  • Book Jacket: Midnight at the Electric
    Midnight at the Electric
    by Jodi Lynn Anderson
    The world changes, but humanity stays the same. Whether a book takes place in the year 1510 or 2010,...

Win this book!
Win The Library of Light and Shadow

The Library of Light and Shadow by M.J. Rose

"Possibly her best yet. A sensuous, sumptuous, and spellbinding novel." - Kirkus Reviews

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Almost Sisters
    by Joshilyn Jackson

    A powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T H Are B T O

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.