The Name of the World (Paperback)
|Author: Denis Johnson|
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|In a haunting, darkly comic novel, a professor at a small Midwestern college, mourning the accidental deaths of his wife and child, discovers that his grief has both transformed and enlarged his life. By the author of Jesus Son. 40,000 first printing. *Author: Johnson, Denis *Publication Date: 2001/05/01 *Binding Type: Paperback *Language: English *Depth: 0.50 *Width: 5.50 *Height: 8.00|
From the Publisher:
In a haunting, darkly comic novel, a professor at a small Midwestern college, mourning the accidental deaths of his wife and child, discovers that his grief has both transformed and enlarged his life. By the author of
The acclaimed author of Jesus' Son and Already Dead returns with a beautiful, haunting, and darkly comic novel. The Name of the World is a mesmerizing portrait of a professor at a Midwestern university who has been patient in his grief after an accident takes the lives of his wife and child and has permitted that grief to enlarge him.
Michael Reed is living a posthumous life. In spite of outward appearances -- he holds a respectable university teaching position; he is an articulate and attractive addition to local social life -- he's a dead man walking.
Nothing can touch Reed, nothing can move him, although he observes with a mordant clarity the lives whirling vigorously around him. Of his recent bereavement, nearly four years earlier, he observes, "I'm speaking as I'd speak of a change in the earth's climate, or the recent war."
Facing the unwelcome end of his temporary stint at the university, Reed finds himself forced "to act like somebody who cares what happens to him. " Tentatively he begins to let himself make contact with a host of characters in this small academic town, souls who seem to have in common a tentativeness of their own. In this atmosphere characterized, as he says, "by cynicism, occasional brilliance, and small, polite terror," he manages, against all his expectations, to find people to light his way through his private labyrinth.
Elegant and incisively observed, The Name of the World is Johnson at his best: poignant yet unsentimental, replete with the visionary imaginative detail for which his work is known. Here is a tour de force by one of the most astonishing writers at work today.
In this short novel, Michael Reed is trying to carry on after his wife and daughter are killed in a car crash. A New York Times Notable Book for the year 2000.Denis Johnson is the patron saint of lost souls--his novels' protagonists are invariably damaged individuals in the act of capsizing, reaching out for something to hold on to: religion, love, philosophy, or even just a moment of human compassion. Michael Reed, the narrator of THE NAME OF THE WORLD, has a clear psychic scar: his wife and daughter died five years ago in a car crash. Since then, Reed, a college professor, has turned inward, his life calcifying into a numbed routine. He's jolted awake by the arrival of Flower Cannon, a redheaded student, stripper, and performance artist, and he begins to obsessively follow her. His fascination is perversely mixed--he's both sexually attracted to her and somehow associates her with his dead daughter. Logic and reality are never Johnson's strong points--he's a writer who moves intuitively through his narrative, seeking for moments of clarity and transcendence. Some readers will find this approach disorienting and frustrating, but for those willing to be seduced by Johnson's brilliant prose and hypnotic vision, THE NAME OF THE WORLD becomes an unforgettable meditation on grief and awakening. A New York Times Notable Book for the year 2000.
"Concerned with sorrow and the task of continuing in a world riven with loss, where perfection always decays, THE NAME OF THE WORLD is still often shrewd and funny....Johnson is the kind of writer who's so good you don't notice how good he is. There's no effort to reading this novel--it just sort of slips in, less like reading than breathing in the cool dry air of winter." - Laura Miller 07/24/2000 New Yorker
"The events of this academic novel flirt with predictability: the faculty scheming, the learned freeloading, the abruptly terminated position, the professor's sexual attraction to a graduate student....Explosions don't last, and Denis Johnson's radioactive wine holds up best in small bottles, before the decay of rhetoric sets in. this novel about anomic grief thirsts for tears...." - John Updike 07/24/2000 "Johnson's eloquent examination of one man's persistent inability to extricate himself from the tenacity of grief manages to be both lyrical and raw." 07/01/2000 "If [NAME OF THE WORLD'S] conclusion doesn't quite hold together, this doesn't diminish Johnson's brilliance as a writer." - Michael Miller 07/26/2000