cover image Train Dreams

Train Dreams

Denis Johnson, read by Will Patton. Macmillan Audio, unabridged, two CDs, 2.5 hrs., $17.99 ISBN 978-1-4272-1377-8

Will Patton—who narrated Johnson’s Tree of Smoke—helms this audio version of the author’s far more compact novella about the life of day laborer Robert Granier, who—having lost his family—works his way across the country laying rail lines that will eventually connect the country. Patton narrates in a husky whisper, sounding like a longtime denizen of Johnson’s semimythical American West. It is hard to place Patton’s accent precisely, and this vagueness infuses his reading with an earthy, classic American sound that matches the author’s prose. Highly stylized, Patton’s narration might be too much to handle in a longer audiobook. But in this brisk performance, he never overstays his welcome, and the result is well worth a listen. A Farrar, Straus and Giroux hardcover. (Aug.)