Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Train Dreams- Denis Johnson

Seldom I do read books in translation if the original is written in a language I know. Yet when a friends passes me a book he enjoyed, I'll make the effort and Denis Johnson's book was well worth the effort. It is barely a hundred pages but carries a wealth of metaphor, insight in the hard life in Idaho as exemplified by the main character Robert Grainier. He lives through disaster and the hardships of the American West at the beginning of the twentieths century. The novel exemplifies how personal loss works in a person, how mythical thinking and magic helps and destroys. The main character who starts out as a day laborer is also a prime example of doing what needs to be done. The book was nominated for a Pulitzer prize in 2012. The Dutch translation by Maarten Polman does read well, keeping the sober language of the original. The novel opens with Grainier participating in the killing of a Chinese man who had been accused of stealing... The harshness of those times is immediate and haunting.

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