Twenty-five years after Jesus’ Son, a haunting new collection of short stories on mortality and transcendence, from National Book Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Denis Johnson
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Dwight Garner, The New York Times • Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air • Chicago Tribune • Newsday • New York • AV Club • Publishers Weekly
“Ranks with the best fiction published by any American writer during this short century.”—New York
“A posthumous masterpiece.”—Entertainment Weekly
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • The Washington Post • NPR • The Boston Globe • New York Public Library • Kirkus Reviews • Bloomberg
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is the long-awaited new story collection from Denis Johnson. Written in the luminous prose that made him one of the most beloved and important writers of his generation, this collection finds Johnson in new territory, contemplating the ghosts of the past and the elusive and unexpected ways the mysteries of the universe assert themselves.
Finished shortly before Johnson’s death, this collection is the last word from a writer whose work will live on for many years to come.
Praise for The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
“An instant classic.”—Newsday
“Exceptional luminosity . . . hits a powerful vein.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Grace and oblivion are inextricably yoked in these transcendent stories. . . . [Johnson’s] gift is to extract the beauty in all that brokenness.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Nobody ever wrote like Denis Johnson. Nobody ever came close. . . . We’re just left with this miraculous book, these perfect stories, the last words from one of the world’s greatest writers.”—NPR
The second story collection from the late Johnson (Jesus' Son) is a masterpiece of deep humanity and astonishing prose. The title story chronicles a lifetime of moments, from the small to the ecstatic, of ad agent Bill Whitman, including a chance bathroom encounter, his marriage ("Have I loved my wife? We've gotten along. We've never felt like congratulating ourselves"), and his searching walks around his neighborhood at night ("I wonder if you're like me, if you collect and squirrel away in your soul certain odd moments when the Mystery winks at you"). "The Starlight on Idaho" is structured as a series of letters written by Mark Cassandra, an alcoholic in a recovery center, to all the significant people in his life siblings, doctors, Satan as he considers how he can correct his tendency toward self-destruction ("I have been asked over and over by medical people who probably know what they're talking about Why aren't you dead?'"). In "Strangler Bob," a young man named Dink ends up in county lockup, where he meets a group of other wayward men, eats a hot rod magazine soaked in an unspecified hallucinogen, and mulls over what would happen if an ominous red button on the wall were to be pressed. "Triumph Over the Grave" is a winding story told by an aging writer about his deceased friends and acquaintances, including a novelist who sees the ghosts of his brother and sister-in-law on his Texas ranch. In "Doppelg nger, Poltergeist," a poetry professor's long friendship with one of his students draws him into the student's obsession with an Elvis conspiracy. This book is an instant classic. It's filled with Johnson's unparalleled ability to inject humor, profundity, and beauty often all three into the dark and the mundane alike. These characters have been pushed toward the edge; through their searches for meaning or clawing just to hold onto life, Johnson is able to articulate what it means to be alive, and to have hope.)