John Dugdale

The Time Traveller’s Late Wife

Train Dreams


Granta Books 116pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Like an actor with an Oscar-winning role, Denis Johnson has come to be identified with his award-winning Vietnam epic Tree of Smoke, even though that sprawling, flawed attempt at a Great American Novel was clearly an atypical work. Far more characteristic – and far more disciplined and integrated in its crafting – is this bewitching novella, first published in the Paris Review five years earlier in 2002. With Raymond Carver as his mentor, Johnson emerged in the 1990s as part of the misleadingly labelled ‘dirty realist’ or ‘minimalist’ movement. Carver and his disciples depicted individual lives, usually in rural or suburban America, and declined to endow them with larger meanings or connect them to larger narratives – of social trends, say – and big ideas. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The lack of evidence ... of any definitive brain pathology in cases of schizophrenia and the absence of any reliab… ,
    • 'Since Dylan’s commercial and ideological heyday, the intrusion of sociology, semiology and post-structuralist thou… ,
    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,