Sunday, June 17, 2007

The New Yorker: "1966" by Denis Johnson

I don't think I get Denis Johnson. I've read some of his work and other people rave, but I'm generally not satisfied. Here we have a story in three sections. The first and last in the point of view of Bill Houston and the middle section in the point of view of his younger half-brother James. The year is 1966 and Bill is a loser in the Navy and James is a loser who is head for the Army. And both are probably headed to their death in Vietnam. There's definitely moving stuff here, and both Bill and James and their mother are intriguing characters, but this isn't a story. Now, according to the contributor notes, Johnson has a novel coming out this fall, so I suppose this might be an excerpt, and it might be an interesting novel. But the last 9 paragraphs of the story are just summary, as if Johnson tacked it on the end to try to make it stand alone. It doesn't.

June 11 and 18, 2007: "1966" by Denis Johnson

1 comment:

david dodd lee said...

It's a novel excerpt. It's a testimony to Johnson's almost cultish popularity that the
NYer rushes some prose into print
that obviously ISN'T a well rounded story