Train Dreams and Jesus' Son

  • by Denis Johnson
  • Narrated by Will Patton
  • 5 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Here are two complete audiobooks by Denis Johnson, narrated by Will Patton. Listen to both Train Dreams, and Jesus’ Son, as well as an excerpt from Denis Johnson’s National Book Award-winning Tree of Smoke.
In Train Dreams Robert Grainer is a day laborer in the American West at the start of the 20th 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—this new novella by the National Book Award-winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life.
Jesus's Son, recently adapted for the screen, is a now-classic collection of 10 stories from the author of Resuscitation of a Hanged Man and Angels. The stories are narrated by a young man, a recovering alcoholic and heroin addict, whose dependencies have led him to petty crime, cruelty, betrayal, and various kinds of loss.


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Two Brilliant Novellas Read Brilliantly


“Frost had built on the dead grass, and it skirled beneath his feet. If not for this sound he’d have thought himself struck deaf, owing to the magnitude of the surrounding silence. All the night’s noises had stopped. The whole valley seemed to reflect his shock. He heard only his footsteps and the wolf-girl’s panting complaint.”
― Denis Johnson, Train Dreams

So, I've just read my second great American novella set in Northern Idaho. 'Train Dreams' isn't A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, but it travels similar territory. Just different actors and a different experience. It reads like the Spring sun had just risen on Cormac McCarthy's prose.

If you can describe any novel of less than 120 pages as epic, this novel would own that group. The story seems to float like a gossamer-thin cloud across the sky of the late 19th and early 20th century. It captures horizon-to-horizon the struggles and the dreams that disappeared as horses were replaced with cars and planes, and trains traveled back and forth.


“All these weirdos, and me getting a little better every day right in the midst of them. I had never known, never even imagined for a heartbeat, that there might be a place for people like us.”
― Denis Johnson, 'Jesus' Son'

Sometimes while reading this I thought I was reading Burroughs (just not so dark), other times J.G. Ballard (just not so cold), sometimes even Palahniuk (but with more of a poet's heart). It was madness, a fever dream, tied together with beauty. It was fragments of insanity stitched together with the stars. And sometimes the night of this novel was so dark, I couldn't see the stars, and the blood all looked black.

I didn't personally like it as much as 'Train Dreams', but that was just personal preference. I can see how some readers would absolutely adore it. It felt like I was looking at a painting of blood or a beautiful photograph of a corpse. I was both attracted to and repelled by the art and the vision.
Read full review

- Darwin8u "I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^"

I Should Have Disliked These Stories

Trains Dreams was a slow, immersive story that artfully unfolds a story of aman's simple life. I thought I would not care for a story of a man who seemed to have no introspection, but as I read more deeply, I began to understand how well this character was wrought. On the surface he and the supporting characters appeared two-dimensional; but now I believe the author was writing with the simplicity of the times and demonstrated how people truly interacted and presented themselves. What is so uncanny about this novella is observing how the character's true self was revealed so subtly, almost to be missed, if the reading was not attended to more closely.

Jesus' Son--why would I care about a manipulative, opportunistic lost soul as the main character? Written in the first person, I felt like this was the author's real-life story and I did not like him. But the writing was mesmerizing, and for every reprehensible action or discussion the character embarked on, I was transported by the poetic narrative. A purely wonderful experience. And somehow as the character, in such simple steps, attempts to redeem himself, he becomes sympathetic and an individual to be cared about.

Both stories so masterfully written. The narration in both instances was spot-on, a beautiful voice that characterized his subjects with a straightforward but empathetic understanding.
Read full review

- Sharon

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-02-2011
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio