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Extended Audio Sample Tree of Smoke: A Novel, by Denis Johnson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,838 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Denis Johnson Narrator: Will Patton Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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This National Book Award–winning novel was named a Best Book of the Year by Time, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, Slate, the National Book Critics Circle, and the Christian Science Monitor. It is the story of William “Skip” Sands, CIA—engaged in psychological operations against the Vietcong—and the disasters that befall him. It is also the story of the Houston brothers, Bill and James, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert and into a war where the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away. In its vision of human folly and its gritty, sympathetic portraits of men and women desperate for an end to their loneliness, whether in sex or death or by the grace of God, this is a story like nothing in our literature. Tree of Smoke is Denis Johnson’s most gripping, beautiful, and powerful work to date. In the words of Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times, Tree of Smoke is “bound to become one of the classic works of literature produced by that tragic and uncannily familiar war.”

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Denis Johnson is a true American artist, and Tree of Smoke is a tremendous book.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “It will…get inside your head like the war it is describing—mystifying, horrifying, mesmerizing. [Johnson] has written a book that by the end wraps around you as tightly as a snake.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “There is so much going on in Tree of Smoke, and so many levels of symbolism, that it is hard to do the story justice here…Johnson brings his talents as a poet to bear, especially when describing the jungles and cities of Asia.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Opens a window onto a world of mystery, war, and intrigue whose importance in the (usually) unwritten history of our republic can’t be denied.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “[An] epic, wrenching new novel…[Johnson is] immensely talented [and] delivers a beautifully layered, insightful, and visceral montage of stories.”

    Seattle Times

  • Tree of Smoke is vintage Johnson, combining the grim, gritty realism of Angels, the everyday hallucinatory absurdity of Jesus’ Son, and the post-apocalypse invention of Fiskadoro…Johnson can mold language to theme like a sculptor sculpting clay.”

    Oregonian

  • “This vivid conjuring of an ill-advised foreign war informs the present as much as the past.”

    GQ

  • Tree of Smoke is a Vietnam war novel almost without peer, in which ‘the abyss is alive…’ [Johnson] has written the best work of his career, an existential tour de force.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Denis Johnson’s apocalyptic, doom-and-grace ridden Vietnam novel has a lot of fire in its belly…If Johnson has a signature theme throughout his work, it’s a kind of quasi-mystical redemption on the other side of the abyss; his gorgeous prose and willingness to go deep have led the way through the scarily lightless corridors of his fiction.”

    Boston Globe

  • “It’s beautiful writing: with Johnson, the writing is always beautiful.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Johnson is a fine stylist of the world of soulful disaster.”

    NPR

  • “Johnson has written his War and Peace.”

    Harper’s

  • “I can’t be sure that there’s been a better American novel published in the past ten years. It is a masterpiece.”

    Miami Herald

  • “A brutal beauty of a book…The visceral, poetic writing is unmistakable, and unforgettable.”

    Elle

  • “Damn impressive, a layered, rich, sweaty accomplishment of massive proportions…A mammoth portrait of humanity in conflict.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Johnson is a gifted writer with a knack for erudite and colorful dialogue, and his sense of time and place is visceral and evocative. With this worthy addition to Vietnam literature, he confidently joins the ranks of Tim O’Brien, Larry Heinemann, and Michael Herr.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Ugly and fascinating with many shattering scenes…Gripping.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “The God I want to believe in has a voice and a sense of humor like Denis Johnson’s.”

    Jonathan Franzen, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of The Corrections

  • A 2008 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2007 National Book Award for Fiction
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2007 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • A 2007 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • One of the 2007 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by jess | 2/20/2014

    " A huge, sprawling book. I was never quite sure what Johnson was getting at, until it stopped mattering. It's the unquiet American, looping around an wreaking every character in the wake of the war. Strange and great. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by david evans | 1/14/2014

    " Much, much better than the usual book with this much hype -- it grabs and hold from the 1st page -- admirable technique and control "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Wade Fox | 1/10/2014

    " I was very disappointed in this book. Denis Johnson's Angels and Jesus' Son are two of my favorite books. Judging from all the praise for this, I was expecting a great book. However, nothing really happens in this book. The characters wander without point. Johnson seems to be trying to suggest some significance, but I didn't get it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Mike | 1/2/2014

    " God awful. A drag to read. "

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