Speed Reads

RIP

Denis Johnson, award-winning author of Jesus' Son, Tree of Smoke, dies at 67

Award-winning author and poet Denis Johnson died Thursday at the age of 67, The Washington Post reports. "Denis was one of the great writers of his generation," Farrar, Straus & Giroux president and publisher Jonathan Galassi said in a statement. "He wrote prose with the imaginative concentration and empathy of the poet he was."

Johnson is best known for his hazy, freewheeling collection of linked stories, Jesus' Son, and he won the 2007 National Book Award and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his Vietnam War novel, Tree of Smoke. His most recent novel, The Laughing Monsters, was published in 2014.

"No American novelist since William Burroughs has so flagrantly risked 'insensitivity' in an effort to depict the pathology of addiction," The New York Times wrote of Johnson in 1992.

"My ear for the diction and rhythms of poetry was trained by — in chronological order — Dr. Seuss, Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman, the guitar solos of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, and T.S. Eliot," Johnson once said. "Other influences come and go, but those I admire the most and those I admired the earliest (I still admire them) have something to say in every line I write."