The Laughing Monsters Denis Johnson (USA), Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014. Jesus’ Son Denis Johnson (USA), Reclam, 1992.
The Laughing Monsters is a literary thriller which takes place throughout western Africa. There are exploitative spies, missionaries, and politicians, all pursuing their self-interests at the cost of Africans and the African environment. Superb settings and characters amongst a degraded environment, and a lot of fun.
One of the characters from a short story in Jesus’ Son says, “Because we all believed we were tragic, and we drank.” This quote sums up quite nicely what takes place in this excellent collection. From the Midwest, to the west coast, Johnson populates his stories with soul-searching characters who abuse alcohol and drugs in an endless pattern of self-destruction. And yet, these stories and characters stand out with their extreme humour and unavoidable sympathy, making this an excellent collection of well-written stories.