The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
By Denis Johnson
Random House, 2018
With a tremendous amount of buzz surrounding Denis Johnson’s final piece before passing away, it is tempting to just dive in to see what his follow up
to Jesus’ Son would be. His new collection of short stories on aging, mortality, and transcendence seem to never quite fit together in a coherent
manner. Like most good short stories, Johnson does well to bring you in quickly. However, like most good short stories they leave so much wanting about
trying to examine the stories and their meaning.
While Johnson’s voice and humor shine through in his trademark style, the lack of coherence is extremely difficult to reconcile with. There is bit of
complacency in his storytelling as he seems satisfied to jump around with neither overarching vision to share or characters to become vested in. It seems
that after each one, I was still hoping the next one would be BIG one. Well written of course, but just not very memorable. The story composed of the
letters from a recovering addict was the least enjoyable. For Denis Johnson fans, it is a last chance to enjoy his prose and humor. For the uninitiated,
it is too much of gargled mess to gather a true appreciation of Johnson’s writing.