Tim Johnston - A Carpenter Who Builds Houses and Stories: Background information when reading Descent

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


by Tim Johnston

Descent by Tim Johnston X
Descent by Tim Johnston
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2015, 384 pages

    Dec 2015, 400 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Tim Johnston - A Carpenter Who Builds Houses and Stories

This article relates to Descent

Print Review

Tim JohnstonIn 2007, Tim Johnston's father asked him if he would go to his new house in the Rockies and do the finish work. Johnston made his living as a carpenter at the time, and since 2006 his father had been asking him to do the job. Johnston wasn't writing at the time; he was contemplating, instead, that he might never write again, and so he finally agreed to his father's request. It was in the midst of painting the many rooms of the vast house, wall by wall, that a family popped into his consciousness. As Johnston said – and as many writers have also stated – "If you get a great idea for a story, try like hell to forget it, and if you can't, then go ahead and start writing."

DescentHe couldn't. The family, who would later become the Courtlands, stuck. And the beginning of the novel Descent was born.

Irish GirlTim Johnston is the author of two other books besides Descent (2015): the short story collection Irish Girl (2009) and the young adult novel Never So Green (2002). He was born in Iowa, and has degrees from the University of Iowa and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and teaches in the Creative Writing department at the University of Memphis. His books have received numerous awards, including the O. Henry Prize, the New Letters Award for Writers, and the Gival Press Short Story Award. He was also the Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-Washington Fellow at The George Washington University.

Never So GreenThe life of a writer is sometimes glamorous, but mostly not. And so, when David Sedaris chose Tim Johnston's Irish Girl to bring on his book tour to recommend, Johnston had wild visions of that glamour. And he decided, as a result, to book his on tour, following in the footsteps of Sedaris. Would Sedaris' hearty endorsement of Irish Girl be a life changer for Johnston? (And having the title story, "Irish Girl," included in the David Sedaris anthology of favorites, Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules?) Thousands of dollars in gas money, hotel rooms, Subway sandwiches and Starbucks coffee later – the answer is a definite no. Glamor has not befallen Johnston. But as Johnston said in a piece he wrote in The Salon, "The true numbers, the numbers that return to me every month in the form of bank statements, are empirical and ridiculous. So I think instead of the people I met in the bookstores of America – not networkers, not tweeters, not the friended, but live human beings, book lovers, honest-to-God readers, a living audience."

Tim Johnston, courtesy of www.timjohnston.com

Filed under Reading Lists

This "beyond the book article" relates to Descent. It originally ran in January 2015 and has been updated for the January 2015 edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Salvage This World
    Salvage This World
    by Michael Farris Smith
    In the near-future universe of Michael Farris Smith's Salvage This World, life-threatening ...
  • Book Jacket: Where Coyotes Howl
    Where Coyotes Howl
    by Sandra Dallas
    Where Coyotes Howl may appear to be a classically conventional historical novel — a wide-eyed ...
  • Book Jacket: After the Miracle
    After the Miracle
    by Max Wallace
    Many people have heard one particular story about Helen Keller—how the saintly teacher, Annie ...
  • Book Jacket: The Lost Wife
    The Lost Wife
    by Susanna Moore
    The Lost Wife is a hard-hitting novella based in part on a white settler named Sarah Wakefield's ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The First Conspiracy
by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch
A remarkable and previously untold piece of American history—the secret plot to kill George Washington

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Pieces of Blue
    by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    A hilarious and heartfelt novel for fans of Maria Semple and Emma Straub.

Win This Book
Win Girlfriend on Mars

30 Copies to Give Away!

A funny and poignant debut novel that skewers billionaire-funded space travel in a love story of interplanetary proportions.



Solve this clue:

S I F A R Day

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.