Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Already Dead

Posted on

There’s a plot lodged somewhere in this behemoth of a novel, but grasping it is like eating Jell-O with a fork. The dissolute son of a wealthy landowner, Nelson Fairchild Jr., plans the murder of his wife, Winona, but when his scheme fails and he goes into hiding, his hitman marries Winona. Denis Johnson, however, forgets to tell us why we should care about Fairchild or the other shadowy eccentrics whose drug deals, love affairs, and trance channelings pepper this sprawling narrative. From his attempt to fuse Faulknerian interior monologues with hard-boiled dialogue to his stab at cataloging all manner of California kooks, Johnson (Jesus’ Son) has bitten off more than he can chew here: Already Dead is 400-plus pages of wickedly seductive prose all dressed up with nowhere — and everywhere — to go. B-

Comments