The Largesse of the Sea Maiden

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Mar 2018

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Another literary icon has passed, leaving us with this his offering. Five stories, each longer than your usual shorts. The first, the title story, concern a man who works in advertising, he is nearing retirement, and he tells us in short vignettes about his dead or disappeared acquaintances.

All these stories grapple with death in all its different permutations. They oftentimes feature lives that have lost their way, their control of their future. My favorite was triumph over the grave. Where a once successful author finds success doesn't guarantee happiness. It is the most poignsnt story and the one that closest relates to the author. I had thought I would love the last story with a...

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It has been a few months since I have read this final collection of short stories by Denis Johnson. Johnson’s death has left a void in creative and incredible writing. It is hard to believe this will be the last we hear from him. 
This collection is 5 of his last stories and it seems through the stories, he knows his death is coming. The wonderful aspect of Johnson’s writings is that he never paints a perfect or beautiful picture of the world. He promotes life as messy and not neat at all. This collection shows this aspect of life again. Life can be absurd and Johnson points that out wonderfully in this collection.
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It's weird, Denis Johnson is one of my favorite contemporary authors, but I can't say why, and I haven't read a lot of his work. I respond to the simplicity of his language, and sentences. It yields something more profound than the opposite. I wasn't, however, bowled over by this collection of stories like I was, say, by Tree of Smoke. The stories have a lot to do with life ending and with death, which are different subjects, which maybe I didn't realize until now. And it would make sense that they revolve around death because Denis is also now dead. Or maybe I'm reading into it. Events off the page produce meaning on the page, like the poet in the final story...

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Somehow this was my first time reading Denis Johnson, but it won't be the last. This is a collection of five sizable short stories, and although two of the five were not my favorite, the other three blew me away. Johnson is a poet, and infuses these short stories with a stunning lyricism. The stories at times could be slow plot-wise, but if you let yourself FEEL what he was saying, then you'd find yourself learning so much about life, death, meaning, age, burdens. The slightly heavy tone is offset by the beauty of assured writing--not a word is wasted or out of place. Others have mentioned how reading these stories felt like sitting down with a friend, and I agree. I'll be...

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As a longtime fan of Denis Johnson’s work, I eagerly awaited publication of his short stories. They are all remarkable, especially the title story and “Strangler Bob,” a harrowing look at life inside prison walls. Johnson’s voice is (sadly, was) unique, a looping quality to his sentences that invariably said more than mere words on a page could. Largesse of the Sea Maiden is highly recommended, and for those new to Denis Johnson, I also recommend Angels, Resuscitation of a Hanged Man and - for avid readers - his neglected masterpiece, Already Dead.
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The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is a collection of five stories varying in themes, styles, and lengths. Some were naturally more successful than others, but all were of great quality. The ones that resonated with me most were the three last ones, curiously the atmospheric ones with more somber undertones. Without further ado, I give you my impressions.

I. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is an introspective and vividly described collection of ten vignettes, some short, some longer, around a central character who narrates the stories, and whom we get to know in stages. His name is not revealed until the final story. Starting with the first vignette titled...

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This is a book that filled me with regret. Regret that Denis Johnson left us too young and with no more of his wonderful prose to look forward to. All of the stories in this collection are unique, but my favorite, "Triumph Over the Grave" has a passage about writing that was so true and funny that I had to share it around. Perhaps with knowledge of his own impending demise, Johnson has woven death into a number of these tales. They are not maudlin, I hasten to add, except if you can't escape the shadow of his valedictory. So enjoy this book and DJ's mastery of the form and raise a glass to him next time one is at hand.
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Published by Random House on January 16, 2018

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is a collection of short stories by Denis Johnson, who died last year. Many of the stories continue Johnson’s exploration of the underbelly of life. Every story has a personal feel, as if the author lived the story. Perhaps he did. The collection stands as a testament to American literature’s loss of an outstanding writer.

“The Largesse of the Sea Maiden” is a series of linked vignettes that describe moments in an advertising executive’s life. He drinks with other businessmen and visits a chiropractor for his bad back. He apologizes to his dying first or second wife for his marital crimes (he’s not sure which one...

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THE LARGESSE OF THE SEA MAIDEN: Stories
Denis Johnson
Random House
ISBN 978-0-8129-8863-5
Hardcover
Short Fiction

I will forever associate Denis Johnson with The Velvet Underground, thanks to his short story “Jesus’ Son” and the collection of the same name, which in turn took their titles from a line in the Velvet Underground’s classic song “Heroin.” Indeed, I listened to the V.U canon --- The Velvet Underground & Nico, White Light/White Heat, and The Velvet Underground --- repeatedly while reading THE LARGESSE OF THE SEA MAIDEN, a posthumous collection of Johnson’s shorter fiction which he finished shortly before his death in early 2017. The contents demonstrate that Johnson...

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The best short fiction embraces the limitations of the form and turns them into foundational strengths. There’s a power in brevity that many writers can never fully harness, their work coming off as either overwritten or clumsily truncated.

But when someone displays a true mastery, literary brilliance often follows.

And so it is with “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden,” a quintet of stories from the late Denis Johnson that explore the writer’s longstanding fascination with the freaks and fakes that exist on the fringes of society. Each one of these five tales can be held up as a masterpiece and a masterclass, powerfully evocative and poetically emotive even as the unsavory seediness and/or...

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Hot damn. I am so sad we will have no more stories from Denis Johnson now that this collection is out in the world.  Gritty, tough, and unflinching. Five killer stories. (“Strangler Bob” is set IN the Johnson County Jail, which is two blocks from the UI where Denis Johnson once taught. That was very unexpected.)
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I've never read Denis Johnson before, and I'm not sure I will read more from him. This "collection of short stories" first appeared to have a rhythm and pattern to it, the stories connected by "character" and train of thought, but then it veered way off with a completely different tone of story. If the preceding entries had not been connected as they were, this would have been less jarring. However, Johnson does have a wonderful turn of phrase and poetic nature to his writing, so I'm on the fence when it comes to recommending to others.
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Denis Johnson (July 1, 1949 – May 24, 2017) was an American writer best known for his short story collection Jesus' Son (1992) and his novel Tree of Smoke (2007), which won the National Book Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Train Dreams, originally published as a story in The Paris Review in 2002, was published as a novella in 2011 and was a finalist for that year's Pulitzer Prize (a year in which the Pulitzer board made the rare decision not to award a prize for fiction).

Johnson passed away from liver cancer in May of list year. His final work, a book of short stories titled The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, is being published posthumously on January...

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I think I like, but don't love, Denis Johnson's writing. I thought Train Dreams was excellent; beautiful and spare. I've read Jesus' Son which seemed like it was written by a different person and full of manic energy and anxiety. I've never been motivated to check out Tree of Smoke, but was happy to check out Largesse of the Sea Maiden when the publisher offered it through Net Galley.

The stories weren't all gems but the strong ones were enough to lift the others. The title story is a long, wonderful look at human interaction. Another highlight was the last story, touching on Elvis and his place in American myth with a coincidental lightness that reminded me of Paul Auster.
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Denis Johnson holds an iconic place in contemporary American fiction and poetry. Winner of the National Book Award for his 2007 novel <i>Tree of Smoke</i>, Johnson’s 1992 short story collection <i>Jesus’ Son</i> remains a cult classic. Johnson died in May 2017. For a casual reader to assess Johnson’s <i>The Largesse of the Sea Maiden</i>, his posthumous short story collection, feels almost blasphemous.

<i>The Largesse of the Sea Maiden</i> contains five short stories. The title story, initially published in <i>The New Yorker</i> in 2014, reads like an immediate 21st century classic. Johnson portrays Bill Whitman, a man of 62...

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Wow. I don't know where to start. I guess at my beginning - I first heard about this book in late 2017 on a list of "Most Anticipated" books for 2018. I was not familiar with Denis Johnson, but I was intrigued by what I learned about him and his writing. By the time I had heard of Denis Johnson and wanted to discover more, he had died and I knew that this book of short stories would be published posthumously.

It was impossible to remove from my mind, the fact that this was a posthumous work. Death is very much a theme in this collection. What strikes me most is not that death appears in the stories, but the very ordinary-ness of how it comes up. The way that death can affect...

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I do not post reviews that are one star.  It doesn't seem fair to the author.
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I have been interested in Johnson for some time now and had placed this on my to-read goodreads shelf. I was given the opportunity to read it and made the decision to do based largely on the recommendation that I might like Johnson if I like Saunders.

It didn't pan out that way for me. While another reader might find parallels, I did not. I read two of the stories and *did* like Johnson's writing - enough to try him again in the future - but I'd accepted the ARC because I was in the mood for something like Saunders. At this time, I'm not finishing this one because it didn't meet that Saunders-like criteria for me, and also because I didn't empathize with the...

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