Train Dreams: A Novella

Train Dreams: A Novella

Denis Johnson

Language: English

Pages: 116

ISBN: 1250007658

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Train Dreams: A Novella

Denis Johnson

Language: English

Pages: 116

ISBN: 1250007658

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A New York Times Notable Book
An Esquire Best Book of 2011
A New Yorker Favorite Book of 2011
A Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of 2011
Denis Johnson's Train Dreams is an epic in miniature, one of his most evocative and poignant fictions. It is the story of Robert Grainier, a day laborer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century---an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime. Suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West, this novella by the National Book Award--winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life.

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pot and letting the baby suckle this porridge from the end of her finger. “How much does she know, do you suppose, Gladys? As much as a dog-pup, do you suppose?” “A dog-pup can live by its own after the bitch weans it away,” Gladys said. He waited for her to explain what this meant. She often thought ahead of him. “A man-child couldn’t do that way,” she said, “just go off and live after it was weaned. A dog knows more than a babe until the babe knows its words. But not just a few words. A dog

raised around the house knows some words, too—as many as a baby.” “How many words, Gladys?” “You know,” she said, “the words for its tricks and the things you tell it to do.” “Just say some of the words, Glad.” It was dark and he wanted to keep hearing her voice. “Well, fetch, and come, and sit, and lay, and roll over. Whatever it knows to do, it knows the words.” In the dark he felt his daughter’s eyes turned on him like a cornered brute’s. It was only his thoughts tricking him, but it

below the knee; just a child spent from crawling on threes and having dragged the shattered leg behind her. He’d wondered sometimes about little Kate’s hair, how it might have looked if she’d lived; but she’d snatched herself nearly bald. It grew out in a few patches. He came within arm’s reach. Kate-no-longer growled, barked, snapped as her father bent down toward her, and then her eyes glassed and she so faded from herself he believed she’d expired at his approach. But she lived, and watched

the warm ashes through which he’d been wading, and wept. Ten days later, when the Spokane International was running again, Grainier rode it up into Creston, B.C., and back south again the evening of the same day through the valley that had been his home. The blaze had climbed to the ridges either side of the valley and stalled halfway down the other side of the mountains, according to the reports Grainier had listened to intently. It had gutted the valley along its entire length like a campfire

surrounded by the black spikes of spruce. The cabin was cinders, burned so completely that its ashes had mixed in with a common layer all about and then been tamped down by the snows and washed and dissolved by the thaw. He found the woodstove lying on its side with its legs curled up under it like a beetle’s. He righted it and pried at the handle. The hinges broke away and the door came off. Inside sat a chunk of birch, barely charred. “Gladys!” he said out loud. Everything he’d loved lying

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