CAR CRASH WHILE HITCHHIKING DENIS JOHNSON PDF

You can also try a free ten-day trial period. A short story must be, by definition, short. How do you keep a narrative brief and still have it function as a story? Compared to writing novels, writing short fiction is mainly a question of knowing what to leave out.

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I held the warm pages. My teacher disappeared down the hall. There was something desultory, even unfinished, about the blocky intro of this story, which seemed from its title to already give away its punchline. I read in the lobby:. A salesman who shared his liquor and steered while sleeping…A Cherokee filled with bourbon…A VW no more than a bubble of hashish fumes, captained by a college student….

And a family from Marshalltown who head-onned and killed forever a man driving west out of Bethany, Missouri…. By the time I was past the chain-link fence of the radio station and up the gravel drive and sad cement stoop of the narrow utility house I lived in the story was finished. I had read it while walking, that language toggling between barspeak and prophecy forming a contraption full of motion and destination but mysterious in the ground it covered.

The story scared me. Clearly this writer was more alive than I was. In this aliveness he had learned how to make a conduit of words. I bought the book soon after and the copy I still own is marked with the desperate symbols of a kid trying to unearth some hidden mechanism behind prose that really has more to do with poetry.

There are stories plenty of stories that we read, strict and well-behaved, many of them good, that run along the grain of a lectern. And then there are stories that pivot on turns of phrase.

Stories that follow the logic of language which is a logic rhythm and freedom and possibility. His best characters were sharp wanderers, his best ideas tapping that well Whitman seemed so effortlessly to draw from.

At his most lazy, he fell into the same white-boy traps of an Elmore Leonard or Hunter S. When he wrote about women they were often hypersexed shadows. The first few lines act as a sort of dehydrated version of the complete story. We are bracing for impact. When they do hit a car, the speaker gets thrown against the seat so hard that it breaks. This is him, right before their car hits a sedan parked on the highway:. When a semi truck came toward us and passed going the other way, we were lost in a blinding spray and a warfare of noises such as you get being towed through an automatic car wash.

The wipers stood up and lay down across the windshield without much effect. I was exhausted, and after an hour I slept more deeply. But the man and his wife woke me up later, denying it viciously.

A longtime reader for Ploughshares, he is currently at work on a novel about a Ponzi scheme gone wrong in north Idaho. I read in the lobby: A salesman who shared his liquor and steered while sleeping…A Cherokee filled with bourbon…A VW no more than a bubble of hashish fumes, captained by a college student… And a family from Marshalltown who head-onned and killed forever a man driving west out of Bethany, Missouri… By the time I was past the chain-link fence of the radio station and up the gravel drive and sad cement stoop of the narrow utility house I lived in the story was finished.

This is him, right before their car hits a sedan parked on the highway: When a semi truck came toward us and passed going the other way, we were lost in a blinding spray and a warfare of noises such as you get being towed through an automatic car wash.

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I held the warm pages. My teacher disappeared down the hall. There was something desultory, even unfinished, about the blocky intro of this story, which seemed from its title to already give away its punchline. I read in the lobby:. A salesman who shared his liquor and steered while sleeping…A Cherokee filled with bourbon…A VW no more than a bubble of hashish fumes, captained by a college student…. And a family from Marshalltown who head-onned and killed forever a man driving west out of Bethany, Missouri…. By the time I was past the chain-link fence of the radio station and up the gravel drive and sad cement stoop of the narrow utility house I lived in the story was finished.

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Stories Strangely Told: Denis Johnson’s “Car Crash While Hitchhiking”

She was glorious, burning. We knew. I was fresh off the bus from the Midwest, deeply intimidated by the hip atmosphere, traumatized by certain aspects of my past, and his confusion seemed to match my own. There was a lot of unhappiness in that class over the next few months—some of my peers hated the fact that Denis came in late and left early, read his mail during class, and spoke frankly about his distaste for certain student work.

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