Robert Grainer is a day labourer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century-an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Shipped by train in 1893 unto the woods of the Idaho panhandle, he grows up, works on logging gangs, falls in love, and loses his wife and baby daughter to a particularly pernicious wildfire. Derailed by the loss of ...Read MoreRobert Grainer is a day labourer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century-an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Shipped by train in 1893 unto the woods of the Idaho panhandle, he grows up, works on logging gangs, falls in love, and loses his wife and baby daughter to a particularly pernicious wildfire. Derailed by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime. Suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West Train Dreams captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2011-11-28 Will Patton-who narrated Johnson's Tree of Smoke-helms this audio version of the author's far more compact novella about the life of day laborer Robert Granier, who-having lost his family-works his way across the country laying rail lines that will eventually connect the country. Patton narrates in a husky whisper, sounding like a longtime denizen of Johnson's semimythical American West. It is hard to place Patton's accent precisely, and this vagueness infuses his reading with an earthy, classic American sound that matches the author's prose. Highly stylized, Patton's narration might be too much to handle in a longer audiobook. But in this brisk performance, he never overstays his welcome, and the result is well worth a listen. A Farrar, Straus and Giroux hardcover. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly, 2011-05-09 Readers eager for a fat follow-up to Tree of Smoke could be forgiven a modicum of skepticism at this tidy volume-a reissue of a 2003 O. Henry Prize-winning novella that originally appeared in the Paris Review-but it would be a shame to pass up a chance to encounter the synthesis of Johnson's epic sensibilities rendered in miniature in the clipped tone of Jesus' Son. The story is a snapshot of early 20th-century America as railroad laborer Robert Granier toils along the rails that will connect the states and transform his itinerant way of life. Drinking in tent towns and spending summers in the wilds of Idaho, Granier misses the fire back home that leaves no trace of his wife and child. The years bring diminishing opportunities, strange encounters, and stranger dreams, but it's not until after participating in the miracle of flight-and a life-changing encounter with a mythical monster-that Granier realizes what he's been looking for. An ode to the vanished West that captures the splendor of the Rockies as much as the small human mysteries that pass through them, this svelte stand-alone has the virtue of being a gem in itself, and, for the uninitiated, a perfect introduction to Johnson. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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