Denis Johnson – Tree of Smoke

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Tree of Smoke

I’m afraid it’s time once again for that very painful process that I like to call “Pam’s Book Reviews”. Those three words strike fear in the heart of every literate person reading this blog, and if you are a person who actually writes book reviews then let me apologize in advance. Reading my book reviews is probably akin to a musician listening to someone who is tone deaf try to sing (um, for the record, that would be me also). But I do think that I have found a formula that we can all live with. Basically, I copy, verbatim, the little blurb inside the book jacket. Then, I just say whether or not I liked the book. It works for me, and really it is the least traumatic for all of us.

Last year, I chose Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke: A Novel because it allowed me to read one book for two challenges, the Notable Books Challenge and the Chunkster Challenge. And that’s the problem, I didn’t chose the book because something I was interested in. I chose it just to be able to cross if off of two lists! Silly.

The inside of the jacket:
This is the story of William “Skip” Sand, CIA – engaged in Psychological Operations against the Vietcong – and the disasters that befall him. This is also the story of the Houston brothers, Bill and James, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert and into a war where the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away. In its vision of human folly, this is a story like nothing in our literature.

First of all, I read this book, sort of the same way I watch The Unit on television. When I watch The Unit, I am usually sitting on the couch, paging through a magazine. When a scene comes on with the wives, I put down my magazine and watch, when the war story comes back on, I pick back up my magazine. Why do I even watch The Unit?? Because I control about 99% of our Tivo watching, my husband’s 1% is The Unit and a couple of shows from Spike TV. If he can watch Project Runway, Criminal Minds, Top Chef, Real Housewives of Orange County, and all the other shows that I make him watch, then I can watch The Unit.

So, anyway. I did read this book, all 614 pages of it. I could tell that it was a good book and an interesting book if you like war stories, and covert operations, and things like that. I just kind of paid more attention to the characters and their personalities and less on the covert operations part, and even then it held my interest. So, if you like war based stories, then you would probably really like this!

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  1. says

    lol.. i like the review…real human emotion, not cardboard, intellectual mumbo jumbo! 😉
    sounds like a book my hubby would like..and he doesn’t even like to [his fave movie is the band of brothers series] anyway, thanks for sharing!

  2. says

    It’s great that you’ve reached a compromise on TV, where you control almost all of it. I enjoy your book reviews, BTW! I’d read this book if I ever had free time to read.

  3. says

    I loved your review. I’m horrible at reviewing books. It’s actually been a long time since I’ve read anything remotely intellectual. I mean, mostly I read Nora Roberts, who writes some fairly fantastic storylines and has plausible and well thought out characters and relationships. I should really find something that makes me think a little bit though. *laughs*

  4. says

    I actually blogged my first book review not too long ago and I was shocked to find out how much trouble I had with it! Maybe the more I do the easier it will get.

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