Denis Johnson, one of the last voices of the American macho literature of drifters, redeemed junkies and desolation angels, was hailed as one of the country's finest writers when he died last May at age 67.
Johnson's posthumous collection, "The Largesse of the Sea Maiden," is drawing the kind of critical attention usually given to heralded novels.
The New York Times' Dwight Garner in an ecstatic review Tuesday praised Johnson for his transcendent language and redeeming portraits of life-battered characters.
Exhibiting nostalgia for the minimalistic style and outlaw visions of a range of writers from Hemingway to Jack Kerouac and Johnson's mentor Raymond Carver, Garner says that Johnson's final collection is a long-awaited sequel to his heralded "Jesus' Son," which has gained renown as an American classic.
While Garner sees "The Largesse of the Sea Maiden" as falling short of "Jesus' Son," he finds that it achieves a similar mastery of language, symbolism and character.
Johnson achieved success in a range of genres, including plays, poems and novels. His novel "Tree of Smoke" won the National Book Award and was a Pulitzer finalist.
Yet, with "Jesus' Son," and now "The Largesse of the Sea Maiden," Johnson like Carver, John Cheever and John O'Hara appears one of those writers who will be best known for his short stories.
His narratives about unsuccessful men seeking consolation in life's common beauties seem out of step with Trump's tawdry gilded age.
The stories reveal the constant American reality of people struggling to get by with little more than unrealized dreams and bittersweet memories. And their enduring voices.