The Resuscitation of a Hanged Man

Denis Johnson, Author
Denis Johnson, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $19.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-24949-6
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-14-016522-7
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-06-093466-8
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-250-01596-9
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4668-0705-1
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Johnson ( Angels ; Fiskadoro ) is a writer whose grace and style are frequently highlighted by the incongruity of his plot twists and character development. The hero of this novel, Leonard English, has come to Provincetown after an unsuccessful attempt at suicide by hanging. He finds employment as a radio disc jockey and part-time detective, falls in love with a lesbian, and stumbles along in a haze of tobacco and alcohol. Fascinated with his employer, who owns the radio station and runs the detective agency, and by the people who are the objects of his absurd surveillance activities, English gets involved in intrigues he doesn't understand. Driven beyond his professional commitment to search for a missing man, English is clearly propelled by a desperate need to locate himself, which he finally does in a funny but ultimately tragic final episode. Johnson's dark humor and crisp prose collude to keep the reader in a state of anxiety over the hero's psyche as he flounders toward resolution. Ambiguities, and not answers, lie at the heart of this book's questions about faith and hope. While it's easy to be amused by Johnson's deft narrative talents, readers will also be moved by this burdened, melancholy tale. (Feb.)
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