Tales through his lens darkly

ANALYSIS/OPINION: THE LARGESSE OF THE SEA MAIDEN: STORIES By Denis Johnson Random House, $27, 207 pages He wrote directly too, and his readers, his peers, and the literary establishment loved the gritty talk and the grittier characters. His 2007 novel “Tree of Smoke” won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer; in 2012, another novel “Train Dreams” was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Last July, he was posthumously awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. This collection of short stories is praised by such luminaries as Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith, George Saunders, Philip Roth, Louise Erdrich and Don DeLillo. That’s the varsity. Denis Johnson left 20 works of fiction, poetry, non-fiction and drama. A graduate of the famous Iowa Writers Center, he’d studied with Raymond Carver, who also saw life through a lens darkly. He confessed to one interviewer that he had no answer to what he saw as life’s essential quality, chaos: “I can’t remember very many situations where I had even the tiniest idea what the heck was going on It’s a great comfort to get out a blank sheet of paper and make a world where everybody’s just as lost […]

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