Tree of Smoke
Once upon a time there was a war . . . and a young American who thought of himself as the Quiet American and the Ugly American, and who wished to be neither, who wanted instead to be the Wise American, or the Good American, but who eventually came to witness himself as the Real American and... show more
Once upon a time there was a war . . . and a young American who thought of himself as the Quiet American and the Ugly American, and who wished to be neither, who wanted instead to be the Wise American, or the Good American, but who eventually came to witness himself as the Real American and finally as simply the Fucking American. That’s me.This is the story of Skip Sands—spy-in-training, engaged in Psychological Operations against the Vietcong—and the disasters that befall him thanks to his famous uncle, a war hero known in intelligence circles simply as the Colonel. This is also the story of the Houston brothers, Bill and James, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert into a war in which the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away. In its vision of human folly, and its gritty, sympathetic portraits of men and women desperate for an end to their loneliness, whether in sex or death or by the grace of God, this is a story like nothing in our literature.Tree of Smoke is Denis Johnson’s first full-length novel in nine years, and his most gripping, beautiful, and powerful work to date.Tree of Smoke is the 2007 National Book Award Winner for Fiction.
Publish date: September 4th 2007
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages no: 614
Edition language: English
I agree with reviewers who call this sprawling or confusing, but I thought both of these aspects contributed to a useful chaos and uncertainty that paralleled the war in Vietnam, the landscape traversed, and the clash of world views. The audiobook was infinitely easier than the novel since the speak...
I think I've gotta give this another go, with much more attention. I think I've been angry that every book isn't the revelation that _Jesus' Son_ was, and so my enthusiasm for them may be more muted than they deserve. Still, my read of this was that it worked like gangbusters on the sentence-level...