Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Train DreamsEvery once in a while, I finish reading a book that is so bloody good I feel compelled to write home about it – which is precisely what I’m doing here.

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson was recommended to me by a friend whose opinion of stories I’ll always pay attention to. From the first chapter, I knew for certain the words that form this story were penned by some mighty capable hands. It was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize.

Set in the late 1800s, Denis’s novella walks us through the life of a man named Robert Grainer. Through the course of this concise gem, the reader becomes privy to the life and times of an unassuming West American labourer. Grainer’s great misfortunes, challenging remote lifestyle and stories of lost love paint a vivid and heartbreaking picture of a very different time in America’s history in a landscape unfamiliar to me. Following unexpected turns and moving twists, suddenly you’ll have turned the final page and be left wishing for more. I read Train Dreams over two short flights, from London to Amsterdam and back, so you’ll only need a couple of hours to devour this one whole.

[Granta, 2012]

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