Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Every wolf's and lion's howl
Raises from hell a human soul ~ William Blake, from "Auguries of Innocence"

A novella scarcely 100 pages on half-sized leaves, finished in little more than an hour, Train Dreams hauls boxcars of story that could fully load the most epic of tomes.  Train Dreams is an epic yet terse tome tracking the eccentric lifetime of Robert Grainier from rustic outpost to wilderness depot.  The cadence of Train Dreams over precipitous trestles and into tunnels keeps time to the timelessness of Grainier's memories and not the continuum of a clock, so that we know Grainier the railroad builder before we know him as an orphan; know the happy short-lived family man after the long-time hermit.  We see the caboose quite often before the engine.  Grainier's jobs seem to converge and become the singular preoccupations in his life, be it freight carrier or logger, salvager or log cabin architect, and memories (or were they dreams?) lingered in Grainier&#…

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