Isolation Read #47

Published posthumously in 2018, it contains five short stories: The Largesse of the Sea Maiden; Starlight on Idaho; Strangler Bob; Triumph over the Grave; and Doppleganger, Poltergeist, three of which are among the best I have read for years.

Regular topics for Johnson are covered: incarceration in a prison and a psychiatric unit; drink; drugs; various types of attempts at programmes of withdrawal and recovery; burned out man-hood; the bleary end of the day seen through a smudged shot-glass; “woman troubles”; a poet obsessed with disinterring the bodies of Elvis Presley and his dead at birth twin, Jesse; and at base a wearied existential crisis that just edges out the boredom of it all.

The language and pace are pitch perfect. The prose is pared to the bone.

Pristine, beautiful and elegiac.

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