AngelsBook - 1983
Chronicles the odyssey of two losers--Jamie, mother of two young children, fleeing her unfaithful husband and the world by downing bottles of barbituates, and Bill Houston, a professional thief looking for a job--who find each other as they lose everything. Reprint.
The most critically acclaimed, and first, of Denis Johnson's novels, Angels puts Jamie Mays -- a runaway wife toting along two kids -- and Bill Houston -- ex-Navy man, ex-husband, ex-con -- on a Greyhound Bus for a dark, wild ride cross country. Driven by restless souls, bad booze, and desperate needs, Jamie and Bill bounce from bus stations to cheap hotels as they ply the strange, fascinating, and dangerous fringe of American life. Their tickets may say Phoenix, but their inescapable destination is a last stop marked by stunning violence and mind-shattering surprise.
Denis Johnson, known for his portraits of America's dispossessed, sets off literary pyrotechnics on this highway odyssey, lighting the trek with wit and a personal metaphysics that defiantly takes on the world.
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It was the same as always. Left to his own devices, he was hopeless and dangerous and both, but in custody he flourished. Her oldest son was at home in locked places.
I figure, just leave her alone till whatever it is goes through its whole life-span," Bill Houston said. "I can't afford to get involved. Her kind of trouble, the kind she's deep into right this minute--it has a million little doodads in it. Like the insides of a watch, do you know what I mean, James?" They fell silent, watching this show's host frolic with some leopard cubs outside of his safari tent. It bothered Bill Houston that Jamie was turning into the kind of person you could talk about when she was right there in the room with you.
When she opened her eyes she said, "I been looking for you." "Well, you found me. How about us getting out of here?" "I got to fill out some more forms, I think." She looked around, apparently trying to locate herself among these others. "Shit. Once they start you on filling forms, it just don't ever end." He tried to think of a way of explaining to her that even now, as the two of them dawdled here, these people were inventing forms that would defeat her grandchildren.
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