Train Dreams

Train Dreams

Book - 2011
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A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
One of The Economist 's 2011 Books of the Year
One of NPR's 10 Best Novels of 2011

Denis Johnson's Train Dreams is an epic in miniature, one of his most evocative and poignant fictions.

Robert Grainer is a day laborer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century-an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime.

Suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West-its otherworldly flora and fauna, its rugged loggers and bridge builders-the new novella by the National Book Award-winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011, c2002.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780374281144
Characteristics: 116 p. ; 20 cm.


From the critics

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Jun 26, 2018

I read Train Dreams for my job's book club and I thought it was a decent story given it's length (because honestly I couldn't imagine it being a full length novel). It made me think about just how revolutionary the American railroad system is and how much our modes of transportation has developed since railroads were built. My feelings about the main character, Robert Grainer are meh. He definitely lived a simple life despite trying to kill someone in the beginning pages of the story. Overall, Train Dreams wasn't a spectacular story but it also wasn't a bad one either.

Mar 27, 2018

Quick read. Beautifully crafted story of a small but beautiful life. Rates up there with my faves: Cold Mountain, Tinkerers and some of Mark Spragg's work. I went back to the library lists to find more by this writer.
Can't figure how to give this stars. Seemed to assign a 3.5 stars but I'd go more 4 or 4.5

Mar 19, 2018

Great book! The images from the novella will echo into your days and nights. Really an amazing novella, best read in one or two sittings.

Jan 07, 2017

An ordinary man, a labourer, in the American West in the early 20th century at a time of great change. Very sympathique.

ArapahoeZachT Dec 15, 2016

A beautiful, sparse homage to nature and to the technological transformation at the turn of the century.

Aug 21, 2016

Interesting book, captures the difficult life of those who populated the American West. Robert Granier, the main character goes through very difficult episodes in his life. Some of the descriptions are heart breaking. It is a small book, barely 116 pages but sometimes it felt as if hardship would never end in this book, and it doesn't really.

Tyler__J Jun 15, 2015

Denis Johnson is capable of such concentrated writing that he can say in a hundred pages what most others can't in a thousand. He perfectly blends the real and the abstract in way that seems more authentic than any other author I can think of.

KCLSRecommends Oct 20, 2014

A novella set mostly in the 1920s about the life of Idaho Panhandle railroad laborer Robert Grainer.

Mar 20, 2014

Denis Johnson wrote a big, ambitious, sprawling book about Vietnam ("Tree of Smoke"), so it's understandable that he returned to the small scale and stark prose of his earlier books. A novella doesn't necessarily have to be slight, but this is to the point of being forgettable, despite Johnson's skillful writing. For my money, he's never topped his collection of interconnected stories, "Jesus' Son."

Feb 11, 2014

Melancholy. Stoic. Mystical. In an age of techno-fueled hyper-stimulation it was very rewarding to take this serene yet gritty train ride. At just over 100 pages the economy of this tragedy set in the Old West is admirable. On a recent visit to Melbourne Richard Ford suggested that Train Dreams would have won the Pulitzer if it had been longer. DJ should at least get an award for contributing a new genre to the world of fiction - the epic novella.

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