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Train Dreams

A Novella

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A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year
One of NPR's 10 Best Novels of 2011

Denis Johnson's Train Dreams is an epic in miniature, one of his most evocative and poignant fictions.

Robert Grainer is 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--its otherworldly flora and fauna, its rugged loggers and bridge builders--the new novella by the National Book Award-winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life.

Publishers Weekly Review

May 09, 2011 – Readers eager for a fat follow-up to Tree of Smoke could be forgiven a modicum of skepticism at this tidy volume—a reissue of a 2003 O. Henry Prize–winning novella that originally appeared in the Paris Review—but it would be a shame to pass up a chance to encounter the synthesis of Johnson's epic sensibilities rendered in miniature in the clipped tone of Jesus' Son. The story is a snapshot of early 20th-century America as railroad laborer Robert Granier toils along the rails that will connect the states and transform his itinerant way of life. Drinking in tent towns and spending summers in the wilds of Idaho, Granier misses the fire back home that leaves no trace of his wife and child. The years bring diminishing opportunities, strange encounters, and stranger dreams, but it's not until after participating in the miracle of flight—and a life-changing encounter with a mythical monster—that Granier realizes what he's been looking for. An ode to the vanished West that captures the splendor of the Rockies as much as the small human mysteries that pass through them, this svelte stand-alone has the virtue of being a gem in itself, and, for the uninitiated, a perfect introduction to Johnson.

Customer Reviews

Good, not Great

I expected more after reading all the glowing reviews but found a good story, well written, and not verbose, but not extraordinary in any way. I will read more Johnson however as he has a way with words...EAF


It is only 9 chapters and it needs to be 12 chapters.

Train Dreams
View In iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Aug 30, 2011
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 250 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings