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Tree of Smoke Audiobook

Tree of Smoke: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Fiction, 2007

This is the story of William "Skip" Sands, 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 in which the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away. In its vision of human folly, this is a story like nothing in our literature.

©2007 Denis Johnson; (P)2007 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Winner, Literary Fiction, 2008

"Prose of amazing power and stylishness." (Philip Roth)
"The God I want to believe in has a voice and a sense of humor like Denis Johnson's." (Jonathan Franzen)
"Once Johnson gets his hooks into you, it takes about two sentences, it's...pretty much impossible to stop reading." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (553 )
5 star
 (165)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.7 (277 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (272 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Robert Ft. Benning, GA 10-07-11
    Robert Ft. Benning, GA 10-07-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    106
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    "Why that high - my rating!"

    I've listened to the story several times. Will (Patton) is an excellent actor/reader and has gotten into the story on a visceral level. Yes! I'm a veteran of that war. Veterans will understand easier than general readers, but the story and production are such that all listeners with heart will truly understand. The angst is real, the characters true, the production is first-class.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Colorado Springs, CO 11-15-07
    Amazon Customer Colorado Springs, CO 11-15-07 Listener Since 2005

    birdwater

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dark of Heartness"

    Johnson has captured the futile essence of hte Viet Nam conflict in this book. Sometimes a little difficult to follow, Johnson's account of the books cast left me feeling like I needed a shower. Definitely catching the darkness at the heart of the era.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bryan Lakeville, MN, USA 09-27-07
    Bryan Lakeville, MN, USA 09-27-07 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    Overall
    "confusing"

    What the Heck!!! I've spent the past 20+ hours listening to this book, and still don't understand
    the ending

    Plot starts VERY confusing and is slow to develop. When it does, you find 5-6 different characters interacting to create the story. Author does a poor job of bringing the reader/listener with him.

    Revolves around CIA spies. Pre/Post Vietnam, but with no cohesiveness.

    19 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stageplay Littleton, CO USA 02-09-08
    Stageplay Littleton, CO USA 02-09-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Terrific Novel"

    There are not that many books that leave one with a lasting impression such that they will never forget the book. For me, such books as Les Miserable, Ben Hur, Moby Dick, et al, fit this category. So, too, does Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. I can see where some might find this book a waste of time, for there are many who have not experienced such things as are described in this book and find it implausible, disjointed, or otherwise unacceptable that such things be written. As for me, this is a novel of epic proportion that wrenches the feel of a tragic time from its pages indelibly into the mind of the reader, never to be forgotten. This book is more than a "read". It is an experience, dreamlike, transcendent, and powerful. It is for those who would slake their curiosity. It takes a certain temerity to read a book such as this, an adventure for the imagination that conjures the nightmare of reality. I am a Vietnam era veteran, and I cannot recommend a book in a stronger fashion than this. Read it, feel it, and learn from it.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron Troy, MI, United States 04-18-10
    Aaron Troy, MI, United States 04-18-10 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well crafted; perfectly realized"

    Big and challenging and expertly narrated. One of the better books I've downloaded.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Rotramel 11-12-09 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Ignore the negative reviews and buy this book"

    Not sure why there are so many vehemently negative reviews of this novel. It is an amazing work... luminous, sprawling, elegiac at times and mysterious at others. The narration by Will Patton is perfect for the tone and detail of this book, and carries us along as the story becomes more and less specific. If you are looking for a carefully-plotted thriller, this is not your book. This is an articulate, far-reaching work that touches on themes of family, war, secrets, and the lies we tell ourselves. Listen immediately.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hh pdx United States 07-01-09
    hh pdx United States 07-01-09 Listener Since 2003

    hh01

    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
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    Overall
    "Bloated poser"

    Every so often an author unleashes a jumbled, overwritten ms that gets held up to the reading public as "deep and deliberate, a must read." Fearing they will be seen as ignorant if they speak out against its apparently manufactured merits, each reader pretends to like it more than the next. Suddenly, it has cult status and finds itself on every top ten list. Only after a year or so are people willing to admit the sad truth: the book is merely a bundle of potential, most of it undeveloped; the marketing division has earned its keep.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. C. Pile Millwood, NY 12-07-08
    T. C. Pile Millwood, NY 12-07-08 Member Since 2010

    audiobookaholic

    HELPFUL VOTES
    273
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    "The Vietnam War from a different angle"

    The Vietnam war, being the first war to be televised, has filled our culture with plenty of historical icons that define it for most of us. Denis Johnson has peeled back the surface of those images in Tree of Smoke, and forced us to look at the reality behind them, and to understand our complicity in concealing the truth beneath the layers of collective memory. Will Patton's narration is skillful and compelling.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Trustme CO 05-02-08
    Trustme CO 05-02-08 Member Since 2006

    notapundit

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding Work"

    I found this book to be both "a good read," and a profound piece of literature -- memorable and rewarding on a number of levels. That doesn't happen very often these days within the pages of the same novel. I can understand why some listeners may not feel the same about it -- it's not conventional in the sense that everything is not laid out in a straight line, at or near the surface, and all the loose ends are not tied up by a happy ending. After all, it's set in and around the Vietnam War. (Plenty of dark humor though.) A number of plots and subplots are interwoven to produce a work that is more than the sum of it's parts. The author credits the reader with the ability to think and apply their own intelligence, reflection and insight to the proceedings. My only regret is that more of Mr. Johnson's work isn't available on Audible, so I will have to buy his other books on Amazon to read them.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kai FrederiksbergDenmark 10-20-07
    Kai FrederiksbergDenmark 10-20-07 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Waste of Money for me"

    I picked this title from Audiuble's list of Top Ten Titles for Spy Stories. Unfortunately I had not read the other reviews before since that would have warned me. The book is no typical spy story. So far as I can see after listing to one third it is an impressionistic story of the South East Asia. In parts it reminds me a it of Somerset Maugham but without the wit. So it was no good buy for me. However, to save Audible's honor: I found "The Company" on the same top10 list and that WAS a good spy story. Win Some loose some.

    11 of 18 people found this review helpful

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