‘Emergency’ by Denis Johnson

As with many of the stories in Jesus’ Son, this one seems so perfect that it could only have come into being by some sheer, incredible fluke. It spits on plenty of storytelling conventions, tricks you into thinking you can feel its contours, then it bursts through them, and you. Partly I think it’s the fact that Denis Johnson changes register with such alarming speed that I am always caught off guard no matter how many times I have read the story before, and that he puts such authority into his narrative voice that I will always willingly follow it. But partly it’s just some sort of magic. 

Collected in Jesus’ Son, FSG, 1992, available to read in Narrative Magazine here

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