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Random House Publishing Group, Spring 2019

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The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
Stories
By (author): Denis Johnson
9780812988659 Paperback, Trade English General Trade FICTION / Short Stories Jan 08, 2019
$23.00 CAD
Active 5.2 x 8 x 0.55 in 224 pages Random House Trade Paperback Random House Trade Paperbacks
Twenty-five years after Jesus’ Son, a haunting new collection of short stories on mortality and transcendence, from the National Book Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist.

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is the long-awaited follow-up story collection to Denis Johnson’s classic Jesus’ Son. Written with the same luminous prose, in a style of almost religious intensity, this collection finds Johnson in new territory, contemplating old age, mortality, and the elusive and unexpected ways the mysteries of the universe assert themselves. The characters in these stories are haunted by the ghosts of the past: Some atone for old mistakes and youthful indiscretions, others care for ailing friends and remember long-departed loves, and one is obsessed with the strange entanglement of insanity and genius that has occupied his entire life. Finished shortly before Johnson’s death, this collection is a summation of his career, a monument to a writer whose work will live on for many years to come.

Story Locale: U.S.A.

Publication History: Random House HC (1/18)

FINAL WORK OF A LITERARY MASTER: The entire literary world mourned Johnson’s death in May 2017. Though some of the stories in this collection were written over a long number of years, the body of the book was finished only a few weeks before Johnson died. Indeed, this book is in many ways a last testament and final summation of Johnson’s life and artistic career.

FIRST AND ONLY OTHER STORY COLLECTION SINCE THE CLASSIC JESUS’ SON: Though Johnson had won a National Book Award and was twice a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his novels, he is still best known for his 1992 short story collection, Jesus’ Son. This book, the first and only other collection Johnson has written, will be published almost exactly 25 years later. Readers have been eagerly waiting for this book for years.

NEW DIRECTION: After revolutionizing the short story form in Jesus’ Son—writing in raw, hallucinatory prose about destitute people on the far margins of society—toward the end of his life Johnson was going in a different direction. The characters in this book are ordinary men and women reckoning with the past, yearning to atone and to understand the arc of one’s life.

Denis Johnson was the author of nine novels, one novella, two books of short stories, five collections of poetry, two collections of plays, and one book of reportage. Among other honors, his novel Tree of Smoke won the 2007 National Book Award, and Train Dreams was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.

Author Residence: Boise, Idaho

Author Hometown: Munich, West Germany

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Publicity: New in Paperback

“These four stories rank with Johnson’s best work, but the title story, a catalogue of singular moments related by a man who tells us he’s passing through life as if it were a masquerade, ranks with the best fiction published by any American writer during this short century.”New York

“A posthumous masterpiece…With this book, Johnson has only cemented his status as one of his generation’s greatest writers…. Each story in Largesse is weighted by an astonishing humanity, a generosity of spirit that’s evened out by lyrical dissections of time’s passage and the mysteries of connection…. Here’s an author turning toward the past, conjuring up the ghosts of those he’s loved and lost, writing of wild experiences with affectionate abandon. Few have linked themselves between the reader and the page so intimately—so cosmically—as he does here.”Entertainment Weekly

“An instant classic.”Newsday

“Exceptional luminosity…hits a powerful vein.”The New York Times Book Review

“Grace and oblivion are inextricably yoked in these transcendent stories, the testament of a writer who lived and worked on unusually close terms with death, until that great mystery finally stole him…. [Johnson’s] gift is to extract the beauty in all that brokenness…. Though these are longer, fuller, rangier stories than the strobing fever dreams of Jesus’ Son, they possess the same incredible emotional density. They feel squeezed, to borrow Johnson’s phrase, ‘in the almighty grip of the truth.’”The Wall Street Journal

“Nobody ever wrote like Denis Johnson. Nobody ever came close…We’re just left with this miraculous book, these perfect stories, the last words from one of the world’s greatest writers.”—NPR

“Johnson offers visions and sadness and laughter. But it’s the sentences—those adamantine, poetic sentences—that made him one of America’s great and lasting writers. It’s the sentences that live on.”The Boston Globe

“Johnson’s fiction…overflows with creative energy, moving from one beauty to another with a mercurial, at times almost chaotic grace. Although his characters are often diminished and winnowed by their struggles with life, the narrative voice that describes their travails gives evidence of an imagination that is nearly boundless in its generosity and abundance.”Chicago Tribune

“Sly, open-ended, and meticulously wise…Johnson, in all his work, aimed to locate the hidden, actual face of things. But the new stories build without those miraculous balls of hail, and their truths are necessarily deeper, and more precise…. [Johnson] is a writer whose ambitions were in their own way as broad and burgeoning as Dostoyevsky’s. He is for all time.”—Rachel Kushner, Bookforum

“A final gift from a master.”BOMB Magazine

“Denis Johnson’s posthumous collection winks from beyond the grave…. Johnson told aspiring authors to write as if ink were blood, because it is precious. So are farewells like this…. It is a vital addition to Johnson’s oeuvre.”Time

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