The Largesse of the Sea Maiden : Stories
by Denis Johnson


Overview - 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

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is the long-awaited new story collection from Denis Johnson.  Read more...


 
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More About The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
 
 
 
Overview
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

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.

Advance praise for The Largesse of the Sea Maiden

"Mesmerizing . . . psychologically revelatory, spiritually inquisitive, and grimly funny stories . . . Johnson will be remembered and revered as an incisive storyteller fluent in the comedy and tragedy of human confusion and the transcendence of compassion."--Booklist (starred review)

"American literature suffered a serious loss with Johnson's death. These final stories underscore what we'll miss. . . . Johnson is best known for his writing about hard-luck cases--alcoholics, thieves, world-weary soldiers. But this final collection ranges up and down the class ladder; for Johnson, a sense of mortality and a struggle to make sense of our lives knew no demographic boundaries."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"An instant classic . . . A masterpiece of deep humanity and astonishing prose . . . 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 on to life, Johnson is able to articulate what it means to be alive, and to have hope."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780812988635
  • ISBN-10: 0812988639
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publish Date: January 2018
  • Page Count: 224
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Short Stories (single author)
Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Visionary & Metaphysical

 
BookPage Reviews

Denis Johnson’s final collection

Ernest Hemingway once ventured that all American literature derives from Huckleberry Finn. By this he meant American literature elevates vernacular speech, befitting literature in a democracy. Denis Johnson’s posthumous anthology, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, is superlative proof of that.

Johnson is best known for his Vietnam War novel Tree of Smoke and short story collection Jesus’ Son. A pupil of Raymond Carver, he has garnered a reputation for the sordid and the hard-boiled. But only one story in his new collection, “The Starlight on Idaho,” might be called Carver-esque. It concerns a man in rehab and in fact is less Carver than Bukowski. It’s a no-hoper’s cri de coeur, avoiding the prevalent clichés of the rehab genre.

Johnson’s stories are that of a depleted and decadent civilization. He observes trains everywhere going off the rails. The joke of the title story, which is composed of many interlinked tales, is that modern life is distinctly lacking in largesse and sea maidens. The story “Doppelgänger, Poltergeist” is dedicated to Elvis, as the King is as close to mythology as such a society can come. Swirling speculations about Elvis’ supposed twin lost in childbirth reach a crescendo, which occurs just as the World Trade Center towers are struck and collapse.

Once a recovering addict, the late Johnson seems fixated on death and recovery. His stylistic range is certainly wondrous, straddling the starkness of “Starlight” and the hysterical realism of “Doppelgänger, Poltergeist.” Critics like B.R. Myers have found Johnson’s prose affected and artless, and one does wonder sometimes what purpose fiction serves if it doesn’t inspire. After all, even folksy Huckleberry Finn did that. But Johnson’s stories are pertinent and engaging. They hold up a mirror to society’s dregs and to that extent are flawless.

 

This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews