Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson

jesus' sonThis is an intense, gritty collection of connected short stories that is almost a novel. The unnamed narrator (known only as Fuckhead) is clearly the same guy throughout, as we follow him through a nearly-chronological series of adventures in drug abuse, petty crime and violence, depravity and apathy. Also novelistically, there is something of an arc: the story ends with our narrator living sober with a part-time job, muddling along in a dingy, not-guilt-free version of redemption. It is not clearly told; the narrator is addled and deluded, and so is his story-telling style; it is performative of the character.

There is beauty throughout, as well. It is a fascinating, glittering series of tales in its emotional range and its tolerance for different viewpoints. Jesus’ Son has the power to entertain and amuse, to disturb and disquiet, and to uplift all at once. It is a strange, powerful creation.

Rating: 7 hits.

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