Posts Tagged: Denis Johnson

Re-creations, Adaptations, and “Rip-offs”

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Jesus’ Son is often considered the seminal work of Denis Johnson’s career. But recently Johnson called the book a “rip-off” of Isaac Babel’s early 20th century work, Red Cavalry. For The Millions, Nathan Scott McNamara contests Johnson’s assertion, arguing that “rip-off” is not the proper word to describe the influence of Red Cavalry on the author’s story collection:

In Jesus’ Son, the stories and execution certainly have a lot in common with Red Cavalry and — in considering them closely — it seems right for Johnson to acknowledge his debt.

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Soul of a Whore and Purvis, by Denis Johnson

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As a writer, Denis Johnson has demonstrated a remarkable ability to polarize. On the one hand he has impressed some of the most prestigious awards committees in the United States. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship, won the National Book Award in 2007 for Tree of Smoke, and was also short-listed for the Pulitzer that same year.

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