web site hit counter The Stars at Noon - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Stars at Noon

Availability: Ready to download

Set in Nicaragua in 1984, The Stars at Noon is a story of passion, fear, and betrayal told in the voice of an American woman whose mission in Central America is as shadowy as her surroundings. Is she a reporter for an American magazine as she sometimes claims, or a contact person for Eyes of Peace? And who is the rough English businessman with whom she becomes involved? As Set in Nicaragua in 1984, The Stars at Noon is a story of passion, fear, and betrayal told in the voice of an American woman whose mission in Central America is as shadowy as her surroundings. Is she a reporter for an American magazine as she sometimes claims, or a contact person for Eyes of Peace? And who is the rough English businessman with whom she becomes involved? As the two foreigners become entangled in increasingly sinister plots, Denis Johnson masterfully dramatizes a powerful vision of spiritual bereavement and corruption.


Compare

Set in Nicaragua in 1984, The Stars at Noon is a story of passion, fear, and betrayal told in the voice of an American woman whose mission in Central America is as shadowy as her surroundings. Is she a reporter for an American magazine as she sometimes claims, or a contact person for Eyes of Peace? And who is the rough English businessman with whom she becomes involved? As Set in Nicaragua in 1984, The Stars at Noon is a story of passion, fear, and betrayal told in the voice of an American woman whose mission in Central America is as shadowy as her surroundings. Is she a reporter for an American magazine as she sometimes claims, or a contact person for Eyes of Peace? And who is the rough English businessman with whom she becomes involved? As the two foreigners become entangled in increasingly sinister plots, Denis Johnson masterfully dramatizes a powerful vision of spiritual bereavement and corruption.

30 review for The Stars at Noon

  1. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    “Morning’s an oven; noon is a star; dusk is a furnace; but the middle of the night, at its worst, is only a hot bath…” This slim novel, set in 1984 Nicaragua, is my first by Denis Johnson. I’m not sure why I started with this probably lesser-known work, except that I liked the title and the setting. The oppressive heat of war-torn Nicaragua is perfect for a tale like this one. It adds significantly to the stifling and dangerous atmosphere of feeling trapped in a country that is ruled by a revolut “Morning’s an oven; noon is a star; dusk is a furnace; but the middle of the night, at its worst, is only a hot bath…” This slim novel, set in 1984 Nicaragua, is my first by Denis Johnson. I’m not sure why I started with this probably lesser-known work, except that I liked the title and the setting. The oppressive heat of war-torn Nicaragua is perfect for a tale like this one. It adds significantly to the stifling and dangerous atmosphere of feeling trapped in a country that is ruled by a revolutionary government with constant threats from counter-revolutionary forces. Add United States involvement to the mix, and you have a boiling hotbed of covert activity. “I don’t know at what point, maybe it’s as you pass the second or third miserable sugar refinery looking just like a prison, that you realize you’ve been ejected from Paradise. And whatever these stunned, drenched people did to get themselves banished here is an absolute mystery. Like your own mortal error…” The narrator is about as unreliable as they come, which adds to the mystery of the whole thing. She’s an American, carries a press card, and claims to work for a magazine. She also ‘admits’ to working for a peace organization. But right from the start we see that she exchanges sex for money, so it would be safe perhaps to add ‘prostitute’ to her resume as well. It’s unclear if this is her true ‘vocation’ but rather a survival tactic in order to raise enough cash to get herself out of this Hell. One thing is for certain however – she’s one clever and resourceful heroine. When she falls for one of her clients, an English businessman with a questionable resume of his own, the book takes off into high gear. I didn’t expect a survival sort of story, but that’s what this is at its best. It is fast-paced and a bit perplexing (which I’m guessing is intentional – this is a militant corner of the world with a number of dubious characters, after all.) Oh, and I’ve hinted at the romance of course. This is a messy, convoluted kind of love story. No need to duck and cover from cloying sentimentalism here. “In his own way he’s a beautiful human, perhaps he’s a hallucination, he’s no easier to credit, in this obscene heat and dust, than a frail white snowflake. We’re trying to outrun the Devil and everybody else…” How does one take a dark and murky plot set in a land of decay and turmoil and turn it into something poetic? Something reeking of desperation and depravity and transform it with beautiful language? I’m saving the extra star for one that I anticipate will inspire me even more. The voice of the narrator was just a tad bit detached for my liking, but that’s really just a feeble whine at this point. I’m a fan! “We can’t remember our sins here. We don’t know who we used to be.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    My second rather obnoxious narrator in a row - this time a woman. She claims to be a journalist for an American paper but is working as a whore in Nicaragua in 1984 when we meet her. Here she meets an Englishman working for an oil company who has incurred the wrath of the Contras and the Americans by telling the Sandinista's where the oil fields are. The author forges the character of his two central protagonists around national clichés - the insecure bravado of the American abroad and the steri My second rather obnoxious narrator in a row - this time a woman. She claims to be a journalist for an American paper but is working as a whore in Nicaragua in 1984 when we meet her. Here she meets an Englishman working for an oil company who has incurred the wrath of the Contras and the Americans by telling the Sandinista's where the oil fields are. The author forges the character of his two central protagonists around national clichés - the insecure bravado of the American abroad and the sterilising formality of the Brit abroad. It's a device which works really well because he works in a lot of subtlety to these generalisations. Less likeable for me was the noir voice the author deploys for his narrator, hard-edged and cynical and familiar to us from heaps of private detective films. The author did it well but it's not a voice I find very engaging. It's a novel that takes a while to burst into life but this is what happens at about the half way point when the two characters are on the run and seeking to escape Nicaragua. I ended up really enjoying it. Thanks to Candi for putting this on my radar. Definitely an author I'll be reading again.

  3. 5 out of 5

    J. Kent Messum

    When you hear the name Denis Johnson, you inevitably think of Jesus' Son, the book that put the man on the map. But 'The Stars At Noon' is another masterful work from a true talent that should not be missed. This is a novel about being trapped out in the open; one American woman's paranoid escape attempt from a corrupt country while she tries to stem the erosion of both her sanity and soul. Set in Nicaragua in the 1980s, we experience the story through the main character as she is allowed to exi When you hear the name Denis Johnson, you inevitably think of Jesus' Son, the book that put the man on the map. But 'The Stars At Noon' is another masterful work from a true talent that should not be missed. This is a novel about being trapped out in the open; one American woman's paranoid escape attempt from a corrupt country while she tries to stem the erosion of both her sanity and soul. Set in Nicaragua in the 1980s, we experience the story through the main character as she is allowed to exist within the country, but forbidden to exit it. Supposedly a correspondent, her actual background and reasons to be in Nicaragua appear shady at best, as are the majority of the people she comes in contact with. Her entrapment/abandonment starts subtly, but it isn't long before she must try to flee using whatever means necessary: sex, manipulation, crime, bribery and beggary. The desperation and dismay feels so prominent on the page, it's enough to make you want to avoid ever traveling to any region in the world that has an ounce of instability. It's no secret that Denis Johnson holds rank as one of the best writers in the business, and he delivers another compelling and unnerving piece of fiction that should be on everyone's must-read list. 'The Stars At Noon' is a walk in a frightened, yet cunning woman's shoes. It makes for a thrilling and uncomfortable story about being stuck on foreign soil while being increasingly perceived as an enemy by people who are more than capable of killing you. The lengths we will go to when backed into a corner is a hard swallow, particularly when we all know it's true. Highly recommend.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Actually, the book that really set me straight was Denis Johnson's The Stars At Noon. Johnson is one of those names I've always carried with me, and so one evening when my boyfriend and I were having dinner, and I got an itch to scour the Halfprice Bookstore shelves, when I saw this one title on the shelf, what with its appealing cover and description, and an alluring randomly-read paragraph from the middle of the book, I decided to take it home with me. Best decision I could have made. I started Actually, the book that really set me straight was Denis Johnson's The Stars At Noon. Johnson is one of those names I've always carried with me, and so one evening when my boyfriend and I were having dinner, and I got an itch to scour the Halfprice Bookstore shelves, when I saw this one title on the shelf, what with its appealing cover and description, and an alluring randomly-read paragraph from the middle of the book, I decided to take it home with me. Best decision I could have made. I started reading, and wow. Now, I tried Johnson once before with Already Dead and was less than enchanted. Granted, Johnson's subject matter is really not for the faint of heart, but dear God. The thrill of the perspective he offers, a basic survival story in a completely foreign territory but without losing over to lengthy description and standoffishness in regards to his characters in this foreign place, was freaking rock solid. Not only that, but I made one of the coolest discoveries I have ever made while reading - I found the lyrics from the first verse to a song from my favorite Sonic Youth album, Daydream Nation. The song is called "The Sprawl", and it was actually one of the first Sonic Youth songs I ever heard, and that convinced me to check them out (well, that and the irresistable Madonna cover 'Into the Groove(y). Some of the sentences in the verse were very distinctive, others not so much. But they stuck out like sore thumbs of the best sort to me while I scoured the first fifty pages. Turns out it was lifted from the book, and that just makes me like Sonic Youth even more. Aside from that, this story of human degradation and what lengths people will turn to when they have no other choices is completely engrossing. Enter love story? And you have a complete winner. If I met that book in a dark alley, it would totally kick my ass. I really wanted to include an excerpt in here, and even though certain passages really rocked my socks off, I had a hard time pulling it from the context of the book. It is just all so good. In short, this book gave me a pulse again. It inspired me to actually be fair with the stack of to-reads I've been holding at bay, and for the sake of actually accomplishing them, I am not even going to list them here. It seems I jinx myself whenever I declare lists or to-do's, as if by nature of acknowledging that they are in my future I am also dismissing them at the same time. Boo! No more!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lee Klein

    The single lingering impression is that I need to read the rest of Denis Johnson's novels. I mean, I've read the great Jesus' Son three times, a middling book of essays Seek, only really remembering one about Burning Man, and his posthumous story collection The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, which I liked well enough. I've known the titles of his novels for more than a dozen years but haven't been moved to acquire them until now, always expecting I guess that they wouldn't approach Jesus' Son and I The single lingering impression is that I need to read the rest of Denis Johnson's novels. I mean, I've read the great Jesus' Son three times, a middling book of essays Seek, only really remembering one about Burning Man, and his posthumous story collection The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, which I liked well enough. I've known the titles of his novels for more than a dozen years but haven't been moved to acquire them until now, always expecting I guess that they wouldn't approach Jesus' Son and I'd be a little disappointed, like with lesser DeLillo novels (Mao II, eg). This one starts wonderfully, audaciously, narrated by a female journalist in 1984 Nicaragua looking for "the exact dimensions of Hell," a line on page 15 that triggered immediate recognition that jumped up to amazement and excitement once a line of dialogue appeared in which the narrator is asked if she's for sale and a little later a line about how this was the only part that turned her on. I googled the lyrics to The Sprawl by Sonic Youth. Sonic Youth acknowledges on a page for the song on their site that Denis Johnson influenced the song, so it's not like I discovered the lyrics' provenance but reading pre-dawn on the train to work and happening on these lines was exhilarating, thinking about the cool complexity of Kim Gordon quoting dialogue written by Denis Johnson writing in the guise of a female narrator. After running into the "does fuck you sound simple?" line on page 25, looking for "and he was candy all over" essentially served as the primary narrative drive/plot propulsion in a novel that at most was driven by language and intermittent reemergence of urgency to change money and get to the border with Costa Rica. (Tip for writers: getting an era-defining band to include a few cool lines from your novel in one of the most memorable songs on a masterpiece they'll record and release four years after publication of your book is definitely one way to improve your novel's reception/appreciation in posterity.) Anyway, to answer the question asked early on in both the song and the book: the narrator is for sale, but she hooks up for free with a beautiful Englishman oil executive ("everything about him was candy," pg 95 or so). The narrator observes the world in an attractive, swervy manner -- the narrative voice generally reminiscent of Grace Paley's or more so Jane Bowles of Two Serious Ladies. The book also intermittently seems to fall apart into meandering meaningless dialogue, all of it cool but not so engaging, with only occasional historical or regional interest or insight. I traveled in Nicaragua in 1995, somehow only eleven years after this was set, and the descriptions for the most part jibed, especially diesel exhaust in Managua, the general sense of threat in Matagalpa, the glory of the Masaya volcano, and the pier at the marshy border with Costa Rica. It's all a little exaggerated here for comic effect and isn't all that sensitive to war-torn Central America and its inhabitants etc but it's always well-observed, which is the very loose theme of the book, the power of observation, something like that, a paraphrase of one of those poems the narrator likes to quote by William "Something" Merwin, not that it matters much -- whatever suggestion of a lesson this novel may offer seems very much secondary to its setting and sensibility. Ultimately, this isn't really a "necessary" read but I'm glad I read it -- would only truly recommend it to DJ completists and/or Sonic Youth fanatics. For those interested in images of the Sonic Youth lyrics appearing in their native state, free and in the wild, here ya go: https://twitter.com/litfunforever/sta...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Read By RodKelly

    Sooooooo good!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marc Nash

    A study of self-destruction in an unusual setting. Which particular sphincter of the earth do self-destructive people go to to play out their neuroses? Why a war zone of course. In this case the setting is Nicaragua in 1984, ruled by the Sandinista, undermined by the CIA backed Contras. The narrator is an American woman, her self-destructive behaviour means we aren't sure if she's a spy, a prostitute, black marketeer (in currency), a journalist; the relationship she forms with a British busines A study of self-destruction in an unusual setting. Which particular sphincter of the earth do self-destructive people go to to play out their neuroses? Why a war zone of course. In this case the setting is Nicaragua in 1984, ruled by the Sandinista, undermined by the CIA backed Contras. The narrator is an American woman, her self-destructive behaviour means we aren't sure if she's a spy, a prostitute, black marketeer (in currency), a journalist; the relationship she forms with a British businessman, initially she says is faceless, that he has no features other than his spectacles, but after demanding 50 Bucks for their first act of copulation, then turns into a seeming genuine love, although the Damoclean sword of betrayal hangs over them both continually. Hot, sweaty, dusty, in a land that doesn't work, the atmosphere is brilliantly done.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mike Polizzi

    Johnson's view of Nicaragua in the Sandanista uprising. As expected-- the writing is exquisite. The plot is tight and moves fast, not waiting to answer questions, but allows the vagueness of the situation to unsettle the reader. The truth is malleable: is the protagonist a former aid worker, turned reporter, turned prostitute, a con artist, or something else entirely. The only thing that seems real-- even in its wartime surreality is Nicaragua. A number of lines from the book have been excerpted Johnson's view of Nicaragua in the Sandanista uprising. As expected-- the writing is exquisite. The plot is tight and moves fast, not waiting to answer questions, but allows the vagueness of the situation to unsettle the reader. The truth is malleable: is the protagonist a former aid worker, turned reporter, turned prostitute, a con artist, or something else entirely. The only thing that seems real-- even in its wartime surreality is Nicaragua. A number of lines from the book have been excerpted for The Sprawl by Sonic Youth-- kind of strange to come across. The quotes from WS Merwin added an interesting touchstone-- on the whole it feels like an excellent piece of reporting disguised as a novel of political intrigue.

  9. 5 out of 5

    allison

    I usually adore Denis Johnson, but this one just wasn't doing it for me. Shows its age (written in '86) in an unfavorable way. Also, one of the least convincing female narrators I've ever read. (Though maybe that was the point...?) I usually adore Denis Johnson, but this one just wasn't doing it for me. Shows its age (written in '86) in an unfavorable way. Also, one of the least convincing female narrators I've ever read. (Though maybe that was the point...?)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This was an odd little book. Everything else I have read by Denis Johnson I have loved. This one, not so much. I saw flashes of the genius with whom I have a huge man-crush. Then again, even with a book as spare as this, I found myself skimming whole passages.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Rodgers

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The following is a book review of Denis Johnson’s novel “the Stars at Noon.” “The Stars at Noon” is a vivid contrast to the first book I reviewed which was Andre Dubus’s “Meditation from a Movable Chair”. While Dubus’ memoirs were optimistic despite his suffering the Stars at Noon is one of the single most pessimistic works of literature I have ever read. “The Stars at Noon” is the fictional first person narration of a former American journalist trapped in Nicaragua prostituting herself to fulfill The following is a book review of Denis Johnson’s novel “the Stars at Noon.” “The Stars at Noon” is a vivid contrast to the first book I reviewed which was Andre Dubus’s “Meditation from a Movable Chair”. While Dubus’ memoirs were optimistic despite his suffering the Stars at Noon is one of the single most pessimistic works of literature I have ever read. “The Stars at Noon” is the fictional first person narration of a former American journalist trapped in Nicaragua prostituting herself to fulfill emotional need and to make money to fuel her alcoholism. She meets an Englishman who works for an oil company and is being pursued by the Costa Rican OIJ for a reason that is never really embellished upon. “The Stars at Noon” is a love story in some aspects, and in some ways it is an international adventure story, but I think the primary purpose of the novel is to revel in human squalor. I am not sure if Johnson’s motivation was to illuminate the horrors of third world countries to a more privileged readership, or if a military controlled environment was simply the best way to pack as much degradation into one book as possible. Much of the story reads like a 1970s exploitation movie, the pacing is languid, but in a pleasantly torturous way. The description is very fluid and really establishes the setting as though one were viewing it off of a 16mm film reel, the little details such as the way that Johnson describes someone’s sweaty shirt are really what make the book feel real. And finally everyone suffers, everyone engages in less than pleasant sex acts, and everyone is threatened by death and poverty at all sides. The narrator is an interesting character she recites poetry, coolly describes atrocity and turning tricks, and then moments later raves against the universe. Throughout the book she uses the extended metaphor that Nicaragua is hell and its citizens are the damned. Johnson is a Romantic in how he uses the environment to reflect the emotions of the characters, his descriptions of the stifling hot environment and the steaming jungles greatly add to what pleasure the reader can derive from the book. The dialogue in “the Stars at Noon” is well written and the language barriers that the main characters encounter is an interesting plot device. Unfortunately despite how superbly written “the Stars at Noon” is, and how many evocative images it presents the reader the story of the book comes across as nothing more than a vehicle to show human misery. The lovers make illogical decisions throughout the work such as fleeing for the Costa Rican border despite the fact that the Englishman is wanted in Costa Rica. At the end of the book the narrator sells the Englishman to the CIA and OIJ and receives U.S currency for her betrayal. Throughout the whole book the narrator had been talking about getting back to the U.S and even though she has the money to get a flight she simply goes back to drinking and prostituting herself. All in all “the Stars at Noon” is an interesting book, Denis Johnson’s technique is superb and one can see how books like this one established a market for later writers such as Chuck Palahniuk to come into. However the character motivations really detract from the experience of the reading, and I would not recommend this book unless you enjoy really grim stories that have no catharsis.

  12. 4 out of 5

    J Allan Kelley

    The Stars at Noon follows a woman who may or may not have worked as a journalist in Nicaragua. By 1984, when the story takes place, she has resorted to prostition in an attempt to raise enough American money to escape the countey during its revolution. Denis Johnson's second novel leads you through a hot and smelly world of genuine corruption, paranoia and lurid desire. Johnson's prose and imagery are strikingly beautiful as they portray scenes of horror and inner decay that eventually mine thro The Stars at Noon follows a woman who may or may not have worked as a journalist in Nicaragua. By 1984, when the story takes place, she has resorted to prostition in an attempt to raise enough American money to escape the countey during its revolution. Denis Johnson's second novel leads you through a hot and smelly world of genuine corruption, paranoia and lurid desire. Johnson's prose and imagery are strikingly beautiful as they portray scenes of horror and inner decay that eventually mine through those depths to a kind of reprieve. I don't know that Johnson would have recognized his character's derrangements, for his writing of them is so free of judgement and full in it's embrace of these living creatures.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    So this is where the lyrics to Sonic Youth’s “The Sprawl” come from.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Don Wallace

    A book that can capture the tangled conflict in Central America as well as the one in the consciences and minds of Americans, and to do it in a such a short, direct and unhectoring manner, is what we have here. I rank it with Deborah Eisenberg's Under the 82nd Airborne (the story in the collection of the same name) and Robert Stone's A Flag for Sunrise. But it's also Denis Johnson and that lifts it into the poetic realistic realm, which makes it unique. In that sense, though they are very differ A book that can capture the tangled conflict in Central America as well as the one in the consciences and minds of Americans, and to do it in a such a short, direct and unhectoring manner, is what we have here. I rank it with Deborah Eisenberg's Under the 82nd Airborne (the story in the collection of the same name) and Robert Stone's A Flag for Sunrise. But it's also Denis Johnson and that lifts it into the poetic realistic realm, which makes it unique. In that sense, though they are very different books, I put it with Roberto Bolano's Distant Star, about the Chilean coup against Allende, also short, also poetic in heart and subject matter. Denis was a classmate at Iowa but we rarely talked. He stuck with poets and impressed the hell out of all of us. I wish we had him here to do justice what is happening now--what feels like a blowback that seems to be turning us into Salvador and Honduras and Nicaragua.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick Milinazzo

    An American reporter and English businessman become entangled in one another's lives while desperately trying to get out of Nicaragua. Like many post-modernists, there's a satirical edge to Johnson's writing. A wryness and wit similar in many respects to DeLillo; but Johnson does not alter his realities nearly as much: they are more recognizable to real life, if not more severe. None of the characters have names in the book, which allows the author to be vague or off-handed with the descriptions An American reporter and English businessman become entangled in one another's lives while desperately trying to get out of Nicaragua. Like many post-modernists, there's a satirical edge to Johnson's writing. A wryness and wit similar in many respects to DeLillo; but Johnson does not alter his realities nearly as much: they are more recognizable to real life, if not more severe. None of the characters have names in the book, which allows the author to be vague or off-handed with the descriptions of 1984 Central America. But to someone without enough knowledge on the politics of the time, these generalities can become bothersome. The book begins with pointed, amusing observations, turns more thriller/noir, and then resolves itself how it began. Not his best work, but definitely enjoyable for any fan of the author.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ethan

    It isn’t too many pages in that Johnson makes it clear we’ve stepped in quicksand. Not that the plot ever thickens enough to grab our foothold, but the heated-until-steaming atmosphere of Hell/Nicaragua circa ‘84 makes the clarity of a need for escape slam like a too-late epiphany. In this we spend the entirety of these pages neck and neck with our American Woman’s consolations towards escape and self-sabotaging-romance. Johnson may have tightened up these type of bad-choices jungle thrillers wi It isn’t too many pages in that Johnson makes it clear we’ve stepped in quicksand. Not that the plot ever thickens enough to grab our foothold, but the heated-until-steaming atmosphere of Hell/Nicaragua circa ‘84 makes the clarity of a need for escape slam like a too-late epiphany. In this we spend the entirety of these pages neck and neck with our American Woman’s consolations towards escape and self-sabotaging-romance. Johnson may have tightened up these type of bad-choices jungle thrillers with later releases like *The Laughing Monsters*, but maybe never approaches such sweating-with-Satan delirium. Also: realizing (nearly) every line from Sonic Youth’s “The Sprawl” was lifted from Johnson’s words here was not unlike running into an old acquaintance in a nightmare

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    (Goodreads needs half stars; this is 3.5.) Great sense of dislocation and pervasive dread, and mind-numbing thick heat. Super atmospheric. And influences on Sonic Youth lyrics in “The Sprawl” are fun to spot. I never believed in the protagonist’s voice as being from a woman, but this kind of makes me all the more excited for Claire Denis’s adaptation, in a weird way, like she’s reappropriating an appropriation. The ‘80s language and othering is cringey, but such were the times. Overall, recommend (Goodreads needs half stars; this is 3.5.) Great sense of dislocation and pervasive dread, and mind-numbing thick heat. Super atmospheric. And influences on Sonic Youth lyrics in “The Sprawl” are fun to spot. I never believed in the protagonist’s voice as being from a woman, but this kind of makes me all the more excited for Claire Denis’s adaptation, in a weird way, like she’s reappropriating an appropriation. The ‘80s language and othering is cringey, but such were the times. Overall, recommended. It’s been years since I read The Sheltering Sky, but this ultimately put me in a similar headspace (this is a compliment).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Larry Scarzfava

    Another excellent novel from Denis Johnson! His ability to create the perilous atmosphere of 1980's Central America and to enable me to relate to characters whose lives are so different from mine is incredible! Another excellent novel from Denis Johnson! His ability to create the perilous atmosphere of 1980's Central America and to enable me to relate to characters whose lives are so different from mine is incredible!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melina Selverston-scher

    A dark, cynical, and profound visit to revolutionary Nicaragua. Beautifully written, a confused and authentic voice, lends to some confusion as far as the plot, but it doesn't really matter, it is about the people. A dark, cynical, and profound visit to revolutionary Nicaragua. Beautifully written, a confused and authentic voice, lends to some confusion as far as the plot, but it doesn't really matter, it is about the people.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Classic Denis Johnson and early career practice for his masterful “Tree of Smoke”. This book, set in 1984 Nicaragua, is Heart of Darkness-light. “To live outside the law you must be honest.”

  21. 4 out of 5

    Will

    “We looked at Nicaragua stretching out toward wherever it went, the Pacific ocean was a good bet. Whatever was going on down here, it was none of our business.”

  22. 4 out of 5

    Roxy

    Such utter corruption, secrets, and degradation in war-rotten Nicaragua.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Great atmosphere. Loose plot.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    3.5, which I’d probably have rounded up to 4 except I felt like saying “Th(re)e Stars at Noon.” I’m sure you understand.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andy Plonka

    Sort of a mystery set in Paraguay in 1884 amidst an unsettled government.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This was the rare book where I found the writing style masterful but just couldn't care that much about what was happening. This was the rare book where I found the writing style masterful but just couldn't care that much about what was happening.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pete

    three stars by the standards of DJ. if i wrote this i would award myself five stars just for some of the individual lines. sort of a stoned redo of Graham Greene's The Heart of The Matter; white lady adrift in the tropics bumps into another human, experiences something that combines love, sex, and two-way pity. This book feels like practice, but still has crucial moments. Last line is bulletproof "To be put her with his dreams, but not himself, made substance" is about the most beautiful descrip three stars by the standards of DJ. if i wrote this i would award myself five stars just for some of the individual lines. sort of a stoned redo of Graham Greene's The Heart of The Matter; white lady adrift in the tropics bumps into another human, experiences something that combines love, sex, and two-way pity. This book feels like practice, but still has crucial moments. Last line is bulletproof "To be put her with his dreams, but not himself, made substance" is about the most beautiful description possible of a drunk welder who can't get it up during a three-way with prostitutes, but is also just independently amazing sentiment/thought. ultimately this runs aground on the lack of actual story/character -- have to say that the protagonist does not feel entirely natural as a female voice, and the Englishman really doesn't exist except as a reflective surface for protag. but still glad I read this. Interesting to see some Mr Christ talk creep in toward the end. I screwed up and read this before Fiskadoro, so my project of chronological DJ reading is off, but whatever, I forgive myself. Treasured nuggets of prose from this: the light sad and harmless, virgins eating ice cream cones walking up and down his features were unshaped, they seemed to be materializing out of a bright fog, nothing more than a shining blank with shadows floating on it the small, timeless dead center of Hell, where souls were being branded with the shapes of their hope as soon as you enter you go deaf the green fire of boredom streaks the air Imagine a bus station presided over by demons, some of them hateful and some of them helpful trace the characters of your desires I couldn’t help thinking of a spirit wandering in the Bardo between its death and the next birth, trailing behind its future parents (dated pop music on the radio as evidence that) we were using up our tiny lives, going around in these ridiculous circles, along the outflung fingers of an empire I had to observe him. In fact they were upping my voltage, weren’t the little demons, doing away with whatever was formerely unimaginable, putting before me for observation the most horribly tormented soul of all, the humanitarian among the damned their diesel blackened nostrils, their gnarled arthrtici hands and shrievled guts having been struck by altruism like lightning he wore a secret face bottomless with losses the fat-faced moon. The moon whose bow tie we can never see in a suit exactly the color of dusk pyscho humming of the tires women idling on one leg, like storks If it wasn’t real, it wouldn’t be Hell i sensed cool sanity drifting just beneath me but I couldn’t reach it He needed to dominate something, if only a steering wheel ribcage heaving with the desire to get back up and go on protractedly starving should have felt the terror searching between my ribs for my heart My eyes felt as if they’d been baked settle down in some nice community someplace and watch the little boys grow up it’s never enough to observe suffering. With my eyes open I have to let that suffering pay for me. I have to confess, alone in these solitary places, unheard in the roaring rain, that the suffering of the afflicted pays for me. Either I’m Christ or I’m Judas. In a sense I was playacting, but in another sense I was trying to communicate something to myself. (he) has the idea no non-paying humans should appear anywhere near where he’s leading his life looked the scene of a combined virgin sacrifice and Boy Scout meeting "Holy Jesus, what this guy must have done in his time on Earth... to be put here with his dreams, but not himself, made substance...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris Gager

    Just started last night. As with "Already Dead" the author starts us out with an articulate character with issues of self-destruction. NOT an appealing girl. Typical DJ... great writing applied to a murky purpose. - Something different for DJ - a first person female voice. - The New Yorker has a recent article about today's Nicaragua. Sounds pretty much the same. - DJ's books REALLY tend to focus on max losers. These people have serious problems. A lot of them tied to substance and behavior(prostit Just started last night. As with "Already Dead" the author starts us out with an articulate character with issues of self-destruction. NOT an appealing girl. Typical DJ... great writing applied to a murky purpose. - Something different for DJ - a first person female voice. - The New Yorker has a recent article about today's Nicaragua. Sounds pretty much the same. - DJ's books REALLY tend to focus on max losers. These people have serious problems. A lot of them tied to substance and behavior(prostitution/sex in this case) abuse. - Some funny, madcap dialogue takes place between the girl and the Englishman. Obviously intentional, but believable???? - "Already Dead" crossed with "Nobody Move"... Finished last night; more later. ... So now it's later and my ardor for adding more has cooled. I was going to give this a 3* but that's being a chicken. It's either a 2* or a 4*. I think I'm beginning to get a better idea of what Denis Johnson is up to. For starters, his characters all tend to be REALLY f'ed up with alcohol and drugs. He wants to illuminate the distorted and nasty way the world looks to them and seems to think there are some significant opportunities for a poetic look at their spiritual/psychic dysfunction. He's a former alcoholic-addict in recovery as well as some kind of born-again Catholic(like Mary Carr and Graham Greene). To me that's just as crazy but ... whatever... My perspective is also from the point of recovery from my own codependency and addictions but I take a more detached and scientific view of it all. But then... I don't have his creative drive and talent either. The writing is beautiful, especially when it's put to a fairly succinct and focused goal - like a 200+/- page novel(like this) rather than a big 'un(like "Already Dead" or "Tree of Smoke"). The ending is a bit "airy", unlike "The Power and the Glory", which this book quite closely resembles. I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't just read Mr. Greene's book! Notes... - The poetry fan angle is abused and forced. - Karlmarx.com by Susan Coll - a truly awful novel about a clueless American lass meeting a hapless English twit named Nigel. - The narrator... realistic??? What the bleep is she doing there? Barely any back story at all for either of them. - So... they "fall in love"??? Tough one to swallow. A hellbound fairy tale. - The conversations with the red-haired American jerk are pretty entertaining. - This book is similar to "Already Dead" but saved by it's realative simplicity. Keep it simple - right? - She forgets about the money????? Really???? - The "logic" of the plot at the end is a bit shaky. At least the author mentions the possibility that they "could have" just gone to their respective embassies and saved themselves. Why not? Especially the Englishman... - The narrator is a symbol for something - WHAT? Is too much a deal being made out of simple alcoholism? Maybe not... "I watched the last of Nicaragua go by. We passed along a stretch of Panamerican Highway quite typical of the south, running a sparse gantlet of crippled vehicles - and here and there a dead dog stretched out beside the road, and wrecked, flip-flopping chickens, and your occasional truck-struck horse, still somewhat alive in the dirt, hindquarters jerking and the all-too-visible ribcage heaving with the desire to get back up and go on protractedly starving..."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Malone

    ‘”Only rum is forever.” I agreed.”’ I agree. This novel is sunstroke on paper. If Cormac McCarty’s Suttree is captured drunkenness, which I would argue this novel has that going for it too, then The Stars at Noon is the dried tongue, manic mindset of a desert wander twenty minutes before her brain stops functioning. If Graham Greene had ever shot heroine and gone on South American bender with in a Volkswagen, he would have written The Stars at Noon, the 1995 novel by Denis Jonson, which takes pl ‘”Only rum is forever.” I agreed.”’ I agree. This novel is sunstroke on paper. If Cormac McCarty’s Suttree is captured drunkenness, which I would argue this novel has that going for it too, then The Stars at Noon is the dried tongue, manic mindset of a desert wander twenty minutes before her brain stops functioning. If Graham Greene had ever shot heroine and gone on South American bender with in a Volkswagen, he would have written The Stars at Noon, the 1995 novel by Denis Jonson, which takes place in Nicaragua during August of 1984—a point when the entire region was tipsy with bad politics, bad money, but maintained the same level of bad people the human race is known for. It’s all Coca-Cola and Communists as the narrator heads for Costa Rica, occasionally living off of rice and beans and whatever rum a sweaty hotel happens to have. Denis Johnson’s sentences make this story worth the read. Here is what a reader is in for on the first page: I’ve always been the only patron in the McDonald’s here in this hated city, because with the meat shortage you wouldn’t know absolutely, would you, what sort of a thing they were handing you in the guise of beef. But I don’t care, actually, what I eat. I just want to lean on that characteristic McDonald’s counter while they fail to take my order and read the eleven certifying documents on the wall above the broken ice-cream box, nine of them with the double-arch McDonald’s symbol and the two most recent stamped with the encircled triangle and offering the pointless endorsement of the Junta Local de Asistancia Social de Nicaragua … It’s the only Community-run McDonald’s ever. It’s the only McDonald’s where you have to give back your plastic cup … It’s the only McDonald’s staffed by people wearing military fatigues and carrying submachine guns. This is the same McDonald’s where the narrator went to the ladies’ room “doing nothing, only sweating—needless to say, I wouldn’t go so far in such an environment to raise my skirts and pee; and the walls were too damp to hold graffiti.” Although this is same girl whose wits have curdled by the Nicaraguan heat. Maybe. She’s a journalist who pretends to be a prostitute; or a prostitute who wants to be a journalist. Either way, she expects sex and to be paid for it, until she falls in love with an Englishman with a family and a history questionable enough for the CIA to want to chat with him under the Nicaraguan sun. The dialog in her head has either been eaten away by the heat or she doesn’t practice her language professionally, and instead only survives on sex and not conversation. She’s a victim of exchange rates, dirty sheets and the heat—that endless heat. She’s also a victim of herself. The narrator of The Stars at Noon is a hard sell to most readers who want their narrators to be their special friends throughout the tale, a contemptible demand to make on a book. The heat makes her always feel naked, possibly due to sweat melding her clothing to her body, but we read her as naked and helpless, until she starts to talk, then our pity evaporates especially as her story begins to end and Johnson offers her some epiphanies—golden moments always wasted on the witless as those nostalgic for the good opportunities they squandered. Rum and good sentence are forever, enjoy both in The Stars at Noon.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Marsh

    How do you square a plot this scrambled with prose this stellar? What do you do when the sentences assemble themselves into paragraphs of diamond-cast flawlessness, yet steadfastly refuse greater comprehension. Are the characters even close to people? Is it all just a great, masturbatory spinning from the author's fantasies? What the FUCK happens at the end of this book? It kills me to admit, but I came down on the side of totally not caring if I understood entire swaths of the goings-on in this How do you square a plot this scrambled with prose this stellar? What do you do when the sentences assemble themselves into paragraphs of diamond-cast flawlessness, yet steadfastly refuse greater comprehension. Are the characters even close to people? Is it all just a great, masturbatory spinning from the author's fantasies? What the FUCK happens at the end of this book? It kills me to admit, but I came down on the side of totally not caring if I understood entire swaths of the goings-on in this slim masterpiece. This book should come stamped with hazard symbols because it is molten, toxic, completely airless, a sliver of hell itself. Frequently my breath was turned to ash within my lungs. This, to me, is the very foundation of why I read fiction: to be so pierced by a sentence or turn of phrase that I am branded for life. To be so transported by the descriptions of muggy purgatory and blackened, emptied humanity, it is awe-inducing; so much so that I find myself laughing at such puny concepts as 'sensible plot' and 'believable characters.' This book is elemental in its black majesty. I wrote out a vague description of what happens between the lead prostitute and the shadowy business brit here in the bowels of Nicaragua, but I deleted it because who gives a fuck? Let yourself be blasted apart by this prose. Struggle with it. We are not worthy to be touched by these pages, and yet here they lie anyway.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.