“What a Pair of Lungs!”: Denis Johnson’s Ecstatic American Voice

Denis Johnson’s first and most perfectly realized novel, “Angels,” was the first novel I ever bought new, in hardcover. This was in 1983, in Ithaca, New York, the first wet, yellow week of upstate October. I was twenty-one, a college dropout, working as a bartender in support of the claim that I was writing my own first novel. Some days, the writing didn’t happen. On that day in October, I gave up early, midmorning, and went wandering, and wound up in a bookstore, and there was “Angels,” in a display of début fiction. Its cover showed a charcoal-black desert landscape split by lightning with the title in hot red type. It was a good-looking cover. How else can you judge a book that you haven’t read, much less heard of? I picked it up and started reading:

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Source: newyorker (MALE SLIKE)
“What a Pair of Lungs!”: Denis Johnson’s Ecstatic American Voice