car crash while hitchhiking

car crash while hitchhiking

Car Crash While Hitchhiking

Quotes tagged as “car-crash-while-hitchhiking” (showing 1-1 of 1) “Down the hall came the wife. She was glorious, burning. She didn’t know yet that her husband was dead. We knew. That’s what gave her such power over us. The doctor took her into a room with a desk at the end of the hall, and from under the closed door a slab of brilliance radiated as if, by some stupendous process, diamonds were being incinerated in there. What a pair of lungs! She shrieked as I imagined an eagle would shriek. It felt wonderful to be alive to hear it! I’ve gone looking for that feeling everywhere.” ― Denis Johnson tags: car-crash-while-hitchhiking 25 likes Like
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Car Crash While Hitchhiking

Car Crash While Hitchhiking” is the first story in Jesus’ Son , an interrelated collection of short stories that traces the progress of a young man from drug addiction to recovery. Told in the first person by a seemingly clairvoyant narrator who claims that he can perceive future events, the story jumps around in time. The bulk of the story is devoted to a description of an automobile accident and its aftermath. In chronological order, the events of the story are as follows. The hitchhiking narrator is picked up by a Cherokee, a salesperson, and a college student and consumes large amounts of alcohol and drugs with them. The married salesperson, who is on his way to meet his girlfriend, first picks up the narrator in Texas. The salesperson shares his amphetamines and whiskey with the narrator and rhapsodizes about his capacity to feel love for everyone in his life but then leaves the narrator in Kansas City. A student gives the narrator a ride to the city limits and offers him hashish. Overcome by the quantity of drugs he has taken, the narrator falls asleep in a puddle beside a highway. Eventually a family—a man and his wife, Janice, and their baby—gives the narrator a ride, and he falls asleep. The family’s car is struck by another car, the driver of which apparently has fallen asleep at the wheel. Sprayed with blood and carrying the baby, the narrator seeks help from a reluctant truck driver. He observes that the driver of the other car in the collision is hanging upside down and snoring, still asleep. The police force the narrator to go to the hospital, where he sees hospital personnel telling Janice that her husband died in the accident. The narration shifts to several years in the future when the narrator is admitted to a hospital for medical treatment of his substance abuse. A nurse injects him with vitamins, and while hallucinating that he is in a pastoral setting, the narrator denies that he can help anyone, including the reader. It appears that the narrator’s experience with drugs will persist for some time.
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Car Crash While Hitchhiking

The book is famous for its seemingly chaotic narrative style, which mirrors the mental states of its narrator. In “Car Crash While Hitchhiking” Fuckhead seems to have extra-sensory perception, which allows him to experience in the present a deadly car crash that won’t happen until much later in the narrative. Despite his foreknowledge, he enters the car he claims to know will inevitably crash. “Emergency” picks up with Fuckhead while he’s working a job as a hospital janitor and driving around under the influence of unmitigated batches of prescription medications that he’s stolen from the hospital. The orderly, with whom he takes the drug-fueled, bunny-killing trip, helps to save a man who’s been stabbed in the eye by his wife (this character, Georgie, is also the one who reveals the nickname of the narrator). The book ends on a more hopeful note as the final narrator enters a recovery program and begins to hold down a stable job writing a newsletter for the residents of a nursing home.
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“Down the hall came the wife. She was glorious, burning. She didn’t know yet that her husband was dead. We knew. That’s what gave her such power over us. The doctor took her into a room with a desk at the end of the hall, and from under the closed door a slab of brilliance radiated as if, by some stupendous process, diamonds were being incinerated in there. What a pair of lungs! She shrieked as I imagined an eagle would shriek. It felt wonderful to be alive to hear it! I’ve gone looking for that feeling everywhere.” ― Denis Johnson tags: car-crash-while-hitchhiking 25 likes Like
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“Down the hall came the wife. She was glorious, burning. She didn’t know yet that her husband was dead. We knew. That’s what gave her such power over us. The doctor took her into a room with a desk at the end of the hall, and from under the closed door a slab of brilliance radiated as if, by some stupendous process, diamonds were being incinerated in there. What a pair of lungs! She shrieked as I imagined an eagle would shriek. It felt wonderful to be alive to hear it! I’ve gone looking for that feeling everywhere.” ― Denis Johnson tags: car-crash-while-hitchhiking 25 likes
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Then there are the books you live with—that seem to grow in step with you, that take on new layers of complexity as one’s own world broadens with time. This is Anthony Marra’s relationship to Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson’s classic collection of half-dreamed junky epistles. As a younger man, the closing sentence of “Car Crash While Hitchhiking” taught Marra to shun Proustian excess for gut-punching brevity. Today, it seems to him a different sort of revelation.
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Anthony Marra: “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” the first piece in Denis Johnson’s legendary Jesus’ Son, contains so many quotable lines the entire story could find its way into Bartlett’s. It’s a brief story—eight and a half wide-margined, 14-point font pages in my edition—but it contains more stunning images, more high and low notes, than any eight and a half pages I’ve read before or since.
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Getting back to “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” that painful, stunning and — to me — ultimately hopeful story about death, the narrator finds himself back in detox and at rock bottom. He’s hearing voices, seeing things, and, acknowledging his pitiable state, he addresses us, his dear readers. He says quite frankly, “And you, you ridiculous people, you expect me to help you.” But we do, Denis Johnson, we do.
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Up to this point, however, as chilling as “Car Crash While Hitchhiking” is, it still isn’t a story. It doesn’t become a story until the last paragraph, where Johnson makes an amazing move. Mirroring the chronological liberties of the opening paragraph, he leaps forward: “Some years later, one time when I was admitted to the Detox at Seattle General Hospital, I took the same tack.” Fuckhead goes on to describe the voices that are speaking to him in the room, and the lush hallucinations that appear before his eyes, as a “beautiful nurse” gives him an injection.
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“Car Crash While Hitchhiking” is the first story in Jesus’ Son , an interrelated collection of short stories that traces the progress of a young man from drug addiction to recovery. Told in the first person by a seemingly clairvoyant narrator who claims that he can perceive future events, the story jumps around in time. The bulk of the story is devoted to a description of an automobile accident and its aftermath.
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In this story, a drug-addicted narrator recounts hitchhiking in four different vehicles, first with a Cherokee, then a salesperson, then a college student, and finally a family composed of a husband, wife, young daughter and a baby. The salesperson is drunk and shares alcohol and pills with the narrator before leaving him off to find a student who drives him until he catches a ride with the family. Eventually this vehicle is struck by another car resulting in the death of the driver of the other car. The story ends with the narrator looking back several years later, seemingly in detox, as he recounts his drug abuse, which the entire narration of the story reflects in a style of disconnect from reality.
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In chronological order, the events of the story are as follows. The hitchhiking narrator is picked up by a Cherokee, a salesperson, and a college student and consumes large amounts of alcohol and drugs with them. The married salesperson, who is on his way to meet his girlfriend, first picks up the narrator in Texas. The salesperson shares his amphetamines and whiskey with the narrator and rhapsodizes about his capacity to feel love for everyone in his life but then leaves the narrator in Kansas City. A student gives the narrator a ride to the city limits and offers him hashish. Overcome by the quantity of drugs he has taken, the narrator falls asleep in a puddle beside a highway.
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We are, at this point, about 20 lines into the story, and the ground has fallen away beneath us. Who is this guy (identified, elsewhere in the collection, only as “Fuckhead”)? What has happened to get him in this altered state? Why is he capable of making vatic utterances about the weather and of registering the sweetness of human voices while not caring about their impending demise? No explanation is given. The story rolls on, rubber-necking its way through the car crash, the individual sentences veering from poetic reverie (“Under Midwestern clouds like great gray brains”) to detached commentary (“The interstate through western Missouri was, in that era, nothing more than a two-way road.”) The description of the accident is frightening in the extreme, and leads to a scene in a hospital, when the wife of the injured man learns of his death: “The doctor took her into a room with a desk at the end of the hall, and from under the closed door a slab of brilliance radiated as if, by some stupendous process, diamonds were being incinerated there. What a pair of lungs! She shrieked as I imagined an eagle would shriek. It felt wonderful to be alive to hear it! I’ve gone looking for that feeling everywhere.”

Published on Apr 25, 2017 | Under Car | By michael ellis
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