Tagged with denis johnson

Beautiful Sentences: Denis Johnson

Looking at her I thought of going out in the fields with my wife back when we were so in love we didn’t know what it was.

Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son.


Beautiful sentences

I didn’t want to go home. My wife was different than she used to be, and we had a six-month-old baby I was afraid of, a little son.

Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son


Residency day 7

The pacing of the residency is such that it kind of feels like it’s all coasting from here on. The morning seminar was “Anthology” with Denis Johnson in which we contributed poems that made us want to be a writer. I, being a fiction person, lied and chose “These Poems, She Said” by Robert Bringhurst. If I were honest I would have chosen T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” but someone else picked it so all was good.

Workshop was dedicated to new five-page stories that we brought in. I managed to get a new piece finished last night before going to sleep, but it will apparently come up tomorrow.

The first afternoon seminar slot was dedicated to book arts in which we did a simple pamphlet stitch. Having studied bookbinding back in the 90s, it as a bit unexciting for me. This was followed by Josip Novakovich talking about creating stories out of anecdotes, something which had some resonance later during the question and answer session after Denis Johnson’s reading.

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Residency day 3

Lack of sleep is beginning to catch up with me, and I was in a bit of a haze all day. I wasn’t the only one who was lacking sleep though—the first seminar was delayed because Parker overslept for the first time in five years as he claimed.

Our day began with Eli Horowitz, former editor of McSweeney’s. In many ways it was a look at his autobiography, although there were some interesting insights into his editing process.

After our morning workshop and lunch, we then had Karen Russell, who is substituting for Denis Johnson on short notice. Surprisingly, even with this short notice, she was able to prepare a seminar in which we looked at the importance of grounding even (or especially) fantastical narratives. As an exercise, after reading from Kevin Brockmeier’s A Brief History of the Dead, writing our own account of the passage from the living to the dead.

The evening reading was a staged reading of Denis Johnson’s play Psychos Never Dream, a wonderfully funny and coarse work which I wish we had been able to hear all of rather than just the first act. I did find that once again, a staged reading has been less than it can be. Chicago’s Shakespeare Project still remains my gold standard for what a staged reading can and should be.

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