Denis Johnson, at last

Denis Johnson is a writer we have long coveted for Little Star. We had a piece of his elegaic short novel Train Dreams on our blog way back in 2011 and have been longing for more. Now the stars have aligned and his new novel beckons just as we ready ourselves for the new web-based version of our mobile app Little Star Weekly! The web variant will make our app and its whole backlist available to all on Android devices and indeed any internet-enabled gadget.  It will arrive on November 7, and we’ll set the stage this month with a serenade in three parts from Johnson’s dark new anti-adventure novel, The Laughing Monsters, coming in November from FSG.

When I rejoined my comrades with another drink in my hand Michael said, “I was just explaining to Davidia—we’ll head north tomorrow for Newada Mountain. Or in that direction. North. Stanley explored there, looking for the source of the Nile.”

“More will be revealed,” I said. I was aware that lately I was drinking more than ever in my life. I couldn’t relax or feel like myself in this region without banging myself on the head with something.

“My village is there,” he told us, “in sight of Newada Mountain.” Next he said, “I’m being communicated with by a spirit. Something or someone is contacting me. No, I’m serious. The spirits of my ancestors, the spirits of my village.”

“What village? I thought you were some sort of—what the hell are you, originally, Michael? Some sort of displaced Congolese.”

“I am exactly that. A displaced Congolese. And now,” he said, “I’m going to replace myself.” He took hold of Davidia’s arm as if to hand her to me in evidence. “She’s along because I’m going to marry her. I want her to meet my parents.”

“I thought your parents were dead.”

“Not my real parents. My other parents. The whole village is one family. Everyone is my mother and father and brother and sister. If the feeling is right, we’ll be married right then and there.”

Davidia said, “Wait—if the feeling is right?”

“If you’re welcome. And I’m sure you’ll be welcomed. The bride is always welcome, unless she comes from a clan devoted to stealing.”

“And I’ll be your best man,” I said.

“The equivalent.”

“Nobody’s going to cook me and eat me, I hope.”

“People don’t quite understand,” Michael said, and he may have been serious, “to be eaten pays a compliment to your power.”

Read more in Little Star Weekly

Denis Johnson is the author of eight novels, one novella, one book of short stories, three collections of poetry, two collections of plays, and one book of reportage. These passages come from his new book, The Laughing Monsters, out next month from FSG.









Excerpted from THE LAUGHING MONSTERS by Denis Johnson, to be published November 4th, 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2014 by Denis Johnson. All rights reserved

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