A review of
Tree of Smoke
by Denis Johnson
Denis Johnson is best known for his slim novel-in-stories Jesus’ Son, which since its publication in 1992 has become something of a young writers’ how-to guide. What tends to get left out of most discussions of that book is that Johnson structured it loosely around the Stations of the Cross. In fact, since the publication of his first novel, in 1983, he has been preoccupied with the paradoxical notions of self-sacrifice and salvation in our modern world—but never before has Johnson’s writing been quite so haunted and harrowing as it is in his massive new novel, twenty-five years in the works.
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