Tree of Smoke

Tree of Smoke

Book - 2007
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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 2007 National Book Award Winner for Fiction.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780374279127
0374279128
Call Number: JOHNSON
Characteristics: p. ; cm.
Subjects: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Fiction.

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lukasevansherman
Dec 17, 2015

Sprawling, intense and visceral, Denis Johnson's "Tree of Smoke" will no doubt become one of the great books about the Vietnam War. With its large cast of characters, multiple plots and large scale, it's like a baggy Victorian novel soaked in blood, weed and sweat. It does drag on towards the end, but few other American authors (James Ellroy, maybe DeLillo) have attempted something as ambitious, massive and profound as this. Like "Jesus' Son," it's raw, yet filled with piercing, lyrical moments of beauty. Maybe not a masterpiece, but awfully close.

dccmatthew Apr 21, 2012

Brilliant writing, a tour de force of poetic evocation of the chaos of any war. Very funny satire (or truth) of the intercises between reality and military intelligence. Think "Deer Hunter" with a wicked sense of fun and devilish humor.

k
kkelly00
Feb 22, 2012

A narrow look at the Vietnam War era, focusing on CIA intrigue and the ruined lives of the characters. Crammed full of swearing, drunken and cynical guys with little insight into any larger context. Anti-communist perspective combined with misplaced religion. I kept reading this very long book because I thought surely someone would have learned something from the war. But everyone crashed and burned.

g
GrumpyDave
Dec 06, 2010

2007 - National Book Award - Fiction

c
Cabby
Feb 08, 2008

Amazon.ca top 25 books of 2007.

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