[Reading] ➻ Tree of Smoke By Denis Johnson – Motyourdrive.co.uk



10 thoughts on “Tree of Smoke

  1. says:

    It s here folks How to Win the National Book Award for Dummies Denis Johnson has pulled heavily from this publication for his novel Tree of Smoke Let s highlight the recommendations he used to win the Book Award for fiction 3 Explore a topic of great controversy for the country and its people.Johnson the Vietnam War 6 Story must be sweeping, at least 500 pages.Johnson 614 7 Include at least 5 main characters with individual story threads.Johnson 8.7.a Threads should intertwine but not entirely.Johnson Check.7.b A few threads should be independent entirely.Johnson 6.7.c Some characters should be related.Johnson Father and son.7.d Characters should be male and female.Johnson One female.7.f One character should suffer a breakdown.Johnson Yep, a crazy one who thinks himself a pagan god.7.j One character should be hung.Johnson Check.7.k Character can be foreign.Johnson One 8 Story should span several years.Johnson Takes place from 1963 1983 11 Use realistic, pejorative language with plenty of slang and local color and colloquialisms.Johnson Military jargon 12 Some characters should fall in love and the other character shouldn t find out until years later by receiving letters from death row in Malaysia, but five years after being hung at the gallows, being caught for running guns.Johnson Followed to a T 17 If appropriate to story, use substantial violence.Johnson Check 19 Include scenes of sexual relations.Johnson Check 20 Some characters must die.Johnson Check, check, check 23 Include many breaks within your chapters pace yourself.Johnson At least 20 breaks in all Chapters 33 Chapters should remain untitled, or labelled with minimal reference to story.Johnson Chapters labelled by dates only 34 Story should include a written letter.Johnson 15.Advanced Techniques 37 Story can be crazy, twisted, and leave the reader feeling like they smoked a water bong.Johnson Used to great extent 44 Story can actually make no sense at all, as long as it seems like it s going somewhere.Johnson Check.44.b As a cover for the story going nowhere, and if it s a story about the Vietnam War, you can use as subject matter a thread about Psychological Operations that way the story can be written as an outgrowth of the zany and clandestine techniques used by the PsyOps soldiers.Johnson Right on.44.e The book could be written so that the reader can remove any 5 pages at random and reinsert them at a different place in the book, and it would make absolutely no difference to the story overall Remember, this is an advanced technique Johnson Really, you can do that I ll overexert myself with this one 46 Some of the characters can be unlikeable.Johnson All of them 49 Reader should be able to get all the way to page 595, then take a week break and throw up a little in his mouth to read the last 19 pages This technique provides angst, uncertainty, and a palpable sense of dread in the reader.Johnson Okay.Super Advanced Techniques 55 Bewilder the critics with writing that seems novel, insightful, ageless, and emotive, when in reality the writing is 55.a Boring.55.b Uninspired.55.c Overworked.55.d Unaffective.55.e Especially disorganized, discordant, and disagreeable.Johnson Agree with all.FOR ME, this was a waste of 614 pages worth of reading time that I could have spent favorably on a 2 or even 3 star book Halfway through the book, I couldn t distinguish between several of the characters This book was a battle of wills, not a battle of wits who can outlast the other, reader vs writer It s an extremely forgetful book Look at the numbers on Goodreads Out of 3.5 million members only 2100 people have read it This is what happens when critics and their oversized need to be first to herald a novel read books instead of you or me I m done with this review I m at a loss..just don t read it.


  2. says:

    From this book I learned to carefully check materials before checking them out of my local library When I saw Tree of Smoke on the shelf, I happily checked it out and couldn t wait to get it home and start reading it I am a fan of Denis Johnson s work, and this was his first novel in about nine years.When I flipped to the title page, there was what looked like a flattened booger on it I really wanted to read the book so I quickly flipped the page and started reading anyway A few minutes later I looked down and saw the flattened booger thing ON ME I flung it away, but it made me gag.Anyway, I enjoyed the book, but the whole time reading it I was wary of finding any additional surprises Thankfully, there were none.This is a story about the Vietnam War told in chapters titled with the years 1963 through 1970 The last chapter takes place in 1983 One of my favorite passages was as follows, and I think it rings true for many places in our world today They were born into a land at war Born into a time of trial that never ends.What I don t think has been talked about is the fact that in order to be Hell, the people in Hell could never be sure they were really there If God told them they were in Hell, then the torment of uncertainty would be relieved from them, and their torment wouldn t be complete without that nagging question Is this suffering I see all around me my eternal damnation and the eternal damnation of all these souls, or is it just a temporary journey A temporary journey in the fallen world


  3. says:

    I am not reviewing this book, as I consider myself to be utterly unqualified and am not sufficiently infatuated with my own sense of taste I liked it A lot Hence the stars There.What I m really delighting in right now, however, is how thoroughly unqualified B.R Myers proved himself to be as well His Atlantic Monthly review found at my link text of Tree of Smoke is a display of such blind zealotry that I can t decide between crying out for him to be publicly horsewhipped and merely laughing my ass off But I am struggling to be humane.Being a critic, Mr Myers is not troubled by such concerns He is unremittingly cruel, and clearly shocked at the rest of the world s and most especially, as will be seen, Philip Roth s refusal to follow suit His complaints about Johnson s prose amount to little than petulant squealing against impressionism in literature, with every example given being backed up either by his glaring misinterpretations of the text, or simply not at all Because it s so obvious, you see Yes.His status as one who has long ago vanished up his own asshole is most glaringly confirmed in his declarations concerning what people can and can not feel For the sake of space I ll ignore his charming notion that eighteen year old soldiers do not behave irrationally during a sudden and intense firefight and not just a , Mr Myers, but the lad s very first , or address the questionable ethics behind his constant ignoring of any sort of context I m in danger of committing some of his crimes here, I know please be patient Myers apparently considers the limiting of variety in human experience a proof of how very far reaching is his wisdom in all things literary From the aforementioned implication as to the inability of American youths to have strayed beyond a certain range of behavior during their time in tropical Vietnam, to the impossibility of deranged persons being anything other than blind to all of human nature with a gem somewhere in the middle as to every living male s being incapable of describing their respective genitalia in terms not centered around massiveness it was difficult to resist the notion that, if pressed, Myers could count off the differences that are manifested in humanity with the aid of his digits, and without having to take off than one of his oxfords.And woe unto the unsuspecting hack who should dare to claim otherwise And further woe unto the nation that supports such hackdom, for that nation shall summon forth no other than George W Bush to punish it for such despicable ignorance That s right, my friends G dub himself is our karmic retribution for our abominable literary taste I quote, because it s just too lovely to avoid It would be foolish to demand another Tolstoy, but shouldn t we expect someone writing about the Vietnam War to have sense and eloquence than the politicians who prosecuted it Those two qualities are linked There can be no deep thought without the proper use of words, as our current president never fails to demonstrate This is why it is dangerous to hold up bad English as good punctuation missing and why Philip Roth should know better than to announce that Johnson writes prose of amazing power and stylishness There are people who will take that seriouslyThe application of word to thing has been rotting for some time now, and in the very terms described The social and political consequences are all around us Literati who contribute to the rot punctuation missing whether to preserve a writer s reputation, to stimulate the book market, or simply to go with the flow punctuation missing have no right to complain about incoherent government I shit you not The man s nuts, a total whack job He shames barrels of monkeys.In truth, I can find no convincing praise for Denis Johnson s fine work than the spastic ravings of such a one as B.R Myers had I come across this review beforehand, I would have scooped up Tree of Smoke immediately and filled myself up with the poetry and humanity the novel is so rich with, if for no other reason than to make of myself one harbinger of that inept critic s personal Apocalypse At this late date, all I can do is embrace my role as a Tree of Smoke supporter, and from this become the catalyst for every instance of political misfortune and artistic dissolution that Myers can imagine.This I do unabashedly and with great joy note Lest I be accused of pettiness, I should state that I than suspect the points of missing punctuation that run rampantly through his review to be a fault related to the website They are, unfortunately, still there, and I ve no paper copy available to aid me in their correction They re probably hyphens.


  4. says:

    This book was my own personal Vietnam An unwinnable war of attrition which I nevertheless remained committed to winning for an almost absurd amount of time More significant things happened in my own life during the time I was reading it than happened in the first 400 pages of the book itself Okay, objectively that s a lie, I suppose But that s how it seemed Denis Missing a Letter Johnson is supposed to be a great writer, and I can almost believe he is, but that s just what it would be a belief Because I saw no evidence of real, actual good writing in this book The language was competent but not interesting The characters were bland ciphers and caricatures The dialogue was Delillo esque, but in a crank turner way, not in a good way I m going to go a step further and say this book reawakened in me a vague, sneering disdain for serious literature that had been lying peacefully dormant for the entire time I ve been using this site It made me hate and fear the act of reading itself So I m going against my normal custom of finishing books no matter the cost because this time the cost is too great.Is there any way I can tag Paul Bryant here Because I ve never felt like I had in common with him than I do right now I can actually pinpoint the exact moment when this disdain receded into a forgotten corner of my mind It was in March of 2008, after years of reading nothing literary than The Hitchhiker s Guide to the Galaxy, when I read the first page of Infinite Jest and realized I d made a terrible mistake.


  5. says:

    My full review of this book is much longer than GoodReads word count limitations Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com So before anything else, a little history lessonFrom the mid 1800s until World War II, the Asian country now known as Vietnam was in actuality controlled by France and operated as a colony during WWII, then, the Japanese invaded the area so as to install a Vichy style fascist government It was the Vietnamese, in fact, who eventually rose up and ran this group out of the country at the end of the war, led and funded by local communists who were being secretly supported by Soviet Russia at this point the French tried to come back in and re establish colonialism, but the Viet Minh were having none of it That led to what s now known as the First Vietnam War, or Indochina War if you want to get technical, which lasted for roughly a decade and which the French backed secretly by US resources lost it led in 1954 to a splitting of the country into a North and South Vietnam, with a referendum two years later that was supposed to politically reunify them again The referendum never happened, though, because of the US continuing to stockpile and military in the southern half of the country it soon led to the Second Vietnam War, the enemy now known as the Viet Cong, the war many Americans are familiar with, the one that many people say we lost as well at the end of 1973 which was about us giving up fighting, which is why it s contested whether we should call it losing a war And thus did the entirety of Vietnam become communist in the mid 70s, which was kind of a disaster until 1986 when the country first embraced free market capitalism now in 2007 they re one of the economically fastest growing countries on the planet, certainly of the so called third world, and last year hosted over three and a half million international tourists.I bring you this little tutorial, of course, because you ll need it in order to get through the absolutely mindblowing Tree of Smoke, the latest novel by revered writer Denis Johnson, and a few weeks ago officially the recipient of this year s National Book Award It Is An Astounding Book., make no mistake, one that floored me in a particular way a novel hasn t done to me in years but it s also a book that asks a lot out of you as a reader, not the least of which is a good four to six weeks of commitment, not to mention a fairly good understanding of 20th century Vietnamese history before starting, plus of course with it presenting a challenge to many radical liberals as to how to think of the very concept of war itself It s one of those big books, you know, and by big I mean in a grand, old skool, James Michener or Herman Wouk kinda way a book with a dozen main characters, two dozen other minor ones, all of them scattered around the planet and coming to the same central core of a story from a dozen different backgrounds and mindsets There are good things about such books and bad things in this case, in my opinion, a lot good than bad, but that s partly because I m a big fan of these kinds of novels in the first place It s certainly one of those books that people love giving awards to, because it feels good to give an award to a book like this it s a hefty one, not only emotionally and intellectually but also its sheer physical weight, something that makes you feel like you really accomplished something by making it all the way through.So why does Johnson s name ring a bell, you re thinking Well, because


  6. says:

    It s quite true that, from the United States perspective, the Second World War was the last conflict that could be considered a feel good success Everything since has either yet to be concluded, or produced a stalemate or checkmate that provided, at best, a wan satisfaction at worst, an inflamed and interminable bout of indigestion and, of the latter, certainly none painful and unsettling than those long years of struggle that encompassed the Vietnam War To the nation that defended Southeast Asia from Japan s imperial dream in the mid Forties it must have seemed that another glorious and successful partnership would be worked in ridding the area of the peril of expansionary communism to have thus found themselves considered the aggressors, the imperialists, the baby killers, worked some serious bad juju upon the mindset of America, one from which it took decades to recover its self esteem it has still to recover its equilibrium So it was that upon recent consideration after a long spell of banishment in the shelves, Tree of Smoke held little appeal for me who wants to revisit that theatre of epic futility, especially when it has seemingly been mined, in film and in print, for all its worth but the back cover blurb promising a main character who was a CIA operative engaged in Psychological Operations against the Vietcong planted a seed of interest in my mind that blossomed forth a couple of days later with a strength and pull that I could not resist.I thought this was really good I wanted to love it, but I couldn t I was afraid I might dislike it, but I didn t it s a book that seems to have divided its readers into two passionate camps, both of whose arguments I can now appreciate but I m firmly aligned with its fans, holding this thick, smoky, filmic page turner to be a flawed work of genius I didn t care for some of the plot decisions and turns that Johnson opted for, and I was occasionally tempted though I never acquiesced to start skimming where I sensed that Johnson was going off on another lengthy and meandering tangent but neither of these negatives amount to much compared to Johnson s ability to pen fiction of a cinematic quality, in sweltering jungle and arid desert locations, that chronicles the destruction and dissipation and obsessions of various interconnected individuals during the turbid chaos of the Vietnam War His aptitude for flowing, verisimilar dialogue makes this a novel that is driven by its character s conversations indeed, it is frequently jarring in that major situations or developments are delivered in succinct summaries at the onset of a new chapter, and the character s subsequent discourses the primary means of fleshing out the details of what exactly transpired and, importantly, how its ripples will affect the large cast of characters who populate the pages.Although the story unfolds across select years of the Vietnam War and concludes with one of its aftermath its themes are applicable across all modern day conflicts Johnson s true setting is the Fog of War, and how, beneath its vast, disorienting, and vivifying blanket, all manner of individuals be they religious care workers, patriotic intelligence officers, Vietnamese regime supporters or communist subversives, raw rookie volunteer infantrymen, or legendary heroic figures can and do lose their way, become corrupted or degraded or upended or abraded to the degree that they no longer recognize themselves or the combination of means and ends that have seized control of their waking lives This is a hallucinatory, smothering, violent demesne, with a CIA that is fractured, divided, and working out disparate and competing operations that break both the law and its agents spirits while the army is presented as a disorganized and chaotic presence, an arm that allows its soldiers the opportunity to engage in fucking up the Vietnamese, channeling their energies into a murderous violence that ofttimes slips beyond the control of a unit s officers War is both a hellish nightmare and an ideal and exciting testing ground for men, particularly when they experience it young every character but one eagerly anticipates entering Vietnam, each with various idealizations of what they are there to achieve and how they desire to implement these goals and each will see these desires crumble, idealizations turn into doubts everything become shambolic and corrosive These individuals came into the war with the expectation of having the abstractions that etiolated their lives given definitive form, become reality but the truth of the matter is that what reality had existed for them was stretched and thinned out, become abstract Southeast Asia is a sweltering, humid, liquid environment, ripe for dark nights of the soul and diseases of both the flesh and the spirit The bifurcation of the patient and enduring natives having cast off the French and now chary of this new power arrived upon their shores and what they desire for their sorely tested homeland, and the energized, well intended Americans, with their competitive scheming and convoluted plotting always on the verge of breaking apart into warlordism, is nicely handled.The story is driven by the trio of William Skip Sands, a CIA agent assigned to a Psy Ops unit headed by his paternal uncle, The Colonel a larger than life legend whose exploits prior to, during, and after the Second World War have taken on a mythological status and the latter s perfervid and mindfuckery minded disciple, Jimmy Storm, a sergeant on loan from the US Army The Colonel has commandeered an Army platoon, a Vietnamese village and adjacent mountain top Landing Zone, and a substantial amount of bureaucratic interest and rivalry in his effort to implement a convoluted and precarious scheme to shatter the North Vietnamese Will To Fight at the very highest level Riding escort duty is the intermingled tale of the Houston brothers Bill, who never sets foot in Vietnam, though or perhaps because he is marked by early death experiences and his younger brother James, an aimless teenager trapped in the dead end, blue collar tedium of Phoenix, Arizona, who views service in the war as an opportunity to effect some mayhem whilst collecting a steady paycheque and escape the stifling confines of an existence that scares him and a spirited nurse for an Orphan s NGO, Kathy Jones, who provides a bit of Canadian fervor and the Calvinistic determinism that threatens to either damn or absolve these characters up front, depending upon which angle of Hell you viewed them from These figures touch upon the lives of their Filipino and Vietnamese counterparts and servants, who are all working towards their own particular ends, ones that may or may not be aligned with a loyalty to their respective foreign benefactors and or employers.There is a long introduction that takes place within the Philippines, a prelude to the coming experience of Vietnam and besides being a brilliantly detailed set piece, it completely and expertly delineates how both Americans and natives will be ruined by their immersion in a conflict without clear cut borders, endowed with blurry endpoints and enframed by dubious philosophies This is bookended with a lengthy epilogue in which the reader gets provided with snapshots of the destruction meted out by the passing of the years, the way this terrible tropical conflict has infected its character s lives, and how one particular mythological obsession has seared itself into the flesh the cooling words of redemptive hope that drop the curtain after seven hundred and two pages offer a brief palliative to these terrible burns but a palliative only the scarring is permanent.


  7. says:

    Tree of Smoke The Lords of Fear Discord Tree of Smoke the title could be a metaphor for Johnson s accomplishment with this novel if the smoke is the stylistic mastery of prose he s always possessed, the tree would be the solid, organic story at the novels core He s always had substance behind his narrative than some of the other great American stylists, like Don Delillo but ToS is far rich in character and plot than anything he s written before The naysayers can go fuck themselves This novel deserved the National Book Award than any novel written in the past decade Denis Johnson has given convincing evidence of his utter mastery of prose with Jesus Son , his collection of inter connected stories about a young man drifting across the American landscape, ravaged by various addictions and accumulating tragedies Already Dead , Angels , Resuscitation of a Hanged Man , The Stars At Noon Every one of these titles feature writing that is effortlessly poetic, but never pretentious or arrogant the trap that several great writers have been unable to avoid The novels of Don Delillo, for example since I ve already started picking on him , are marred by his swaggering, I m a fucking genius super writer attitude Denis Johnson, looking smug about the National Book Award I m a literary icon I only hang out in front of buildings that match my shirt I should take a star for that shit Even the greatest writing needs a plot that pulls the reader along, a framework of characters and motivations to build the story up While Don Delillo remains one of the English languages foremost stylists, along with Michael Ondaatje, Charles Frazier, Cormac McCarthy and Ron Hansen, Johnson is both a natural stylist and a natural storyteller He is a rare breed of writer, and only McCarthy displays those same preternatural gifts In Tree of Smoke, Johnson has created an masterpiece of historical fiction, a brilliant and complex tale of the CIA s involvement in Southeast Asia and Vietnam in the years leading up to the war It follows Bobby Skip Sands, fresh out of an intensive training regime that taught him the language and cultural understanding he would need on his vague assignment He finds it difficult to make sense of his work for The Colonel also his uncle, a charismatic and gregarious man that Sands has little in common with The Colonel has a great deal of blood on his hands, and some radical ideas about using psychological warfare to demoralize the enemy His patriotism is like a weight that is crushing his soul he has a maudlin sentimentality when he starts drinking, but as gets drunker his rambling takes on an ugly, nihilistic tone As Skip begins to worry about the Tree of Smoke a massive collection of cards containing names, places, dates, religious beliefs, superstitions, indigenous flora and fauna, local foods, tribal medicines, political leanings, etc, which he is tasked with categorizing and cross referencing into a pre digital intelligence database he is warned by a peer to distance himself from his uncle, due to some mysterious proposal that has his superiors questioning his mental fitness Oooo, a fancy diagram No I have not given you any reason to care about the details it contains But it s topical and it looks all serious and shit Look out He s got diagrams and he s prepared to use them Sands feels himself isolated than ever, but finds some solace in a sad affair with a Canadian relief worker whose husband disappeared in the jungle, likely the victim of any one of the many human predators who hunt there It also tells the story from another side, that of the Houston brothers, who left the desolate future they saw for themselves in exchange for a senseless nightmare Their experiences are woven into the larger tale initially as anecdotal digressions, as one brother leaves his small, impoverished hometown and makes glancing contact with the Colonel and Sands Then the younger brother finds his way to the hell that is simmering in Southeast Asia, becoming directly entangled in the madness that has already taken root in the heart of the CIA and PsyOps.Johnson found in ToS the story that will establish him as one of the great English language writers Regardless what s said about it on Goodreads, where it currently has 3.57 stars out of five thanks, idiots I jk D , Tree of Smoke will endure If you re looking for a fun read , just keep on walking This isn t entertainment, this is big L soul scorching Literature It s compelling, and it s intellectually nourishing, a story that will tattoo itself on your bones and neurons More Art book Reviews More Comic book Reviews More Novel Reviews A Mysterious Review That Might Be Related to the Book in Question, But Written By A Friend Instead


  8. says:

    Tree of Smoke is something like a good, plot driven thriller like LeCarr than Clancy injected with a heady dose of fog of war It s a novel that looks at the Vietnam War through a wonderfully tuned eye for the humane, a critical piece that has no truck with the clich activisms we re used to It s a novel about the human effects of fighting for abstractions It s about forgiveness and salvation, about guilt itself in the face of the unswerving trueness of death It s about what we do to the world in the process of doing what we can for it.The book s gyre encompasses five Americans and one Canadian, each bound in his or her own ways to the land and people of Vietnam The two most central characters are the Colonel self mythologizing man of action, old school war hero, the eponymous Tree of Smoke and his nephew, CIA spook Skip Sands the young man who alternately views himself as the Quiet American and the Ugly American In these two resides a real, unironic feeling of righteousness for the fight against Communism, a yearning for the kind of American destiny that we can all get behind Tree of Smoke is in one sense a story of how this kind of loyalty plays out in a bloody, treacherous, and bureaucratically convoluted jungle occupation But the totality is beyond the scope of synopsis, and the fog of war lifts only with time.This is a book I admire The language is thrilling and refreshing, the palette constantly revitalizing itself And the tenderness with which Johnson places these characters on his pages reveals an author honestly probing for truths, an artist whose only agenda is to make us see clearly through a malarial fog Where he succeeds, the fact that his characters never achieve such unburdened vision becomes than plot device it seems like a tragedy of history.


  9. says:

    Like many of you, I can t figure out why this book won the NBA Not that DJ isn t a great writer, and parts of TOS are wonderfully constructed But as a reader of hundreds of books on Vietnam and a three year all expenses paid visit there during the war, I didn t find insight into a darn thing, nothing new or meaningful And I can turn and look at dozens of books on my shelf which are all of the above And they didn t win squat Obviously, some of you did Some of the comments few actual reviews are fascinating Those liking it seem to be vocal about ending all wars I m trying to stay away from current politics than those who disliked it A couple of the reveiwers showed real ignorance about the VN war and the returning vet And a number were miffed that Johnson had changed genre without telling them More than most books most being very loosely used without benefit of any research or even a quick count TOS reviews comments seem to be about the reader, not the book That s why I enjoy reading them So all in all, maybe that s why the selection committees liked it Of course it is often a kiss of death to compare a novel to great fiction I m thinking The Quiet American comparisons Grahame Greene is a tough act to follow and if that were my only comparison, I would think TOS a poor nephew Authors usually cannot control what a publisher or critic will compare his work to, and have to suffer the slings and arrows nevertheless it happened to me on my first novel and some of the reviews made me consider the witness protection program yet that novel was quite successful.So put me down in the didn t really like it column, but I can t bring myself to give it only one star That s for Harry Potter or Patterson books.


  10. says:

    Another book from Les Plesko s No Stopping Train incredible book list, Denis Johnson s Tree of Smoke almost reaches the level of literary sublimity and transcendence of Robert Stone s quintessential Vietnam book Dog Soldiers Line for line precise, vivid, achingly beautiful, it s the interwoven stories of a double handful of characters beginning in the Phillipines just as Kennedy is assassinated, and moving through the Vietnam experience ending in the 1980 s as the last characters are mopped up The narrative centers, however, upon Skip Sands, the nephew of a CIA legend and somewhat of a Kurtzian figure in the Vietnam conflict Skip teeters, in Johnson s words, between the Quiet American and the Ugly American, becoming just the fucking American that is, looking for legend but fully becoming the mess that Vietnam was Contrasting to Sands, who struggles with the essential issues of that war, who ponders, who sifts and thinks, are the Houston brothers, first Bill, and then the rougher, cruder copy, younger brother James Who don t think, they act and how the war is their undoing as well as it is Sands The only thing that keeps this book from the heaven that is Dog Soldiers is the way the narrative is scattered among so many characters, including Sands, the two Houstons, a nurse with a missionary husband who is murdered by blowgun in the Phillipines and perhaps on the orders of hte CIA, Jimmy Storm, the legendary uncle s crazy right hand man, and a number of the vietnamese characters to boot It is very difficult for a multiple protagonist book to squeeze down to a really resonant ending But aside from this intrinsic and inescapable flaw, this is breath held fiction for 700 pages What verbal firepower, what mimicry, what tension The first scene, in which hapless Bill Houston shoots a monkey, will burn in my brain for life P.S For those who have been asking, the book list is at www.pleskoism.wordpress.com


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Tree of Smoke download Tree of Smoke, read online Tree of Smoke, kindle ebook Tree of Smoke, Tree of Smoke 01848ea07244 Once Upon A Time There Was A War And A Young American Who Thought Of Himself As The Quiet American And The Ugly American, And Who Wished To Be Neither, Who Wanted Instead To Be The Wise American, Or The Good American, But Who Eventually Came To Witness Himself As The Real American And Finally As Simply The Fucking American That S Me This Is The Story Of Skip Sands Spy In Training, Engaged In Psychological Operations Against The Vietcong And The Disasters That Befall Him Thanks To His Famous Uncle, A War Hero Known In Intelligence Circles Simply As The Colonel This Is Also The Story Of The Houston Brothers, Bill And James, Young Men Who Drift Out Of The Arizona Desert Into A War In Which 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 First Full Length Novel In Nine Years, And His Most Gripping, Beautiful, And Powerful Work To Date Tree Of Smoke Is The National Book Award Winner For Fiction