Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Apr 12, 2013

Train Dreams is a weird little book. Only 116 pages but sweeping in scope, it tells the story of Robert Grainer, born in the late 1800s, orphaned and sent to live in the Pacific Northwest where he becomes an itinerant laborer, finds a wife and has a daughter, and experiences happiness so surreal it surely can’t last. It doesn’t. What remains of Grainer’s long life is a story distilled into only the most essential telling.

Author Denis Johnson combines humor with tragedy in such a way to make the poignancy of Train Dreams more tender than can be imagined. If you’re like me, you’ll want to ride this train again, and dream it a second or third time.

Reviewed by Michelle H.
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