Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jesus' Son, by Denis Johnson

(pb; 1992: story anthology)

From the back cover:

"Jesus' Son, the first collection of stories by Denis Johnson, presents a unique, hallucinatory vision of contemporary American life unmatched in power and immediacy and marks a new level of achievement for this acclaimed writer. In their intensity of perception, their neon-lit evocation of a strange world brought uncomfortably close to our own, the stories in Jesus' Son offer a disturbing yet eerily beautiful portrayal of American loneliness and hope."


Jesus's Son is a raw-nerve, febrile-intense "fractured novel" anthology that takes place during the early 1970s, where a heroin addict (nicknamed "F**khead") narrates his largely-unfortunate relationships (which often result in overdoses, gunshot wounds, pregnancy and car crashes), as well as his eventual attempts to "get clean."

Beautiful, situationally harsh, darkly funny, sensitive and stunning work.

One of the best story anthologies I've ever read, this. Worth owning, if you like elegiac, poetic and gritty writing.

The film version, bearing the same title as its source anthology, was released stateside on June 16, 2000.

Billy Crudup played FH (aka "F**khead"). Robert Michael Kelly played "Salesman". Samantha Morton played Michelle. Steve Buck played Richard. Brooke Rachel Shive, billed as Brooke Shive, played Beatle. Mark Webber played Jack Hotel. Michael Shannon, billed as Mike Shannon, played Dundun. Ben Shenkman played Tom. Scott Oster played Stan. John Ventimiglia played McInnes.

Jack Black played Georgie. Denis Leary played Wayne. Will Patton played John Smith. Greg Germann played Dr. Shanis. Miranda July played "Black-Eyed Nurse". Dennis Hopper played Bill. Holly Hunter played Mira. Alan Davidson played Snakeskin.

Alison Maclean directed the film, from a script by David Urrutia, Oren Moverman and Elizabeth Cuthrell (who also played a "Diner Waitress" in the film).

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