Sentences From TREE OF SMOKE

Denis Johnson’s novel is divided into sections by year. In general, the action takes place in the Philippines and Vietnam.

The section self is currently on is 1967.

She’s decided to list the best sentences per page, leading up to p. 222. (Why? For what purpose? Self has no idea. Because it seems like a good way to kill time until the dining room opens for lunch?)

The speakers are Americans. Their names are James, Fisher, Evans, Walsh, Flatt, and a cowboy.

p. 198:  His feet steamed in his boots.

p. 199:  They continued pondering the question.

p. 200:  For a while they moved so slowly a cart behind them was able to keep pace, and James stared for a long time into the stupid, deeply sympathetic face of a water buffalo.

p. 201:  “Oh no you don’t. The truck stays here.”

p. 202:  “I didn’t sign up,” Fisher said.

p. 203:  There were lava lamps.

p. 204:  Evans said, “What was the name of this town again?”

p. 205:  James felt like joining in, but he was too shy.

p. 206:  “Deal.”

p. 207:  “He’s just being friendly,” James put in.

p. 208:  “Don’t fight the little fella. Never fight the little fella.”

p. 209:  Walsh paid for the beers.

p. 210:  “Your leaders have lied to you. They have led you to believe you can win.”

p. 211:  “Well into the second quarter, Michigan State was tromping us ten to nothing.”

p. 212:  “And to give up the stretch of ground in pursuit of some theory about the future is not the way we do things here.”

p. 213:  “These guys can explain.”

p. 214:  “He was fine till you turned up just now.”

p. 215:  “If you’re easy on me, I’m easy on you, that’s the system here.”

p. 216:  Evans brushed dried mud from one and sat down and said, “Only three-hundred and sixty-four more days of this shit.”

p. 217:  “You wait out here,” Flatt said when they’d reached the Purple Bar.

p. 218:  The cowboy said, “Hey, now, listen: I am not your asshole.”

p. 219:  “I feel like I’ll hurt somebody.”

p. 220:  “Does Psy Ops work for the CIA?”

p. 221:  “Because — I mean — let’s face it.”

p. 222:  Uncle Hao had warned Minh that Mr. Skip spoke Vietnamese.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Things Self Is Learning About in Canada 1: Wolves

Self should have begun this series of posts with Dinosaurs but she didn’t have time until today to think this through. Hence, Post # 1 will be about WOLVES.

Like humans, wolves display a variety of temperaments and psychological quirks. Their family structure more closely resembles ours than those of many primate societies. Loyalty and affection towards kin are two of a wolf’s most observable characteristics.

— Doug Chadwick, National Geographic, May 1988 (Quoted in a pamphlet produced by the Northern Lights Wolf Centre in Golden, British Columbia)

Sponsor a wolf! Help wild wolves:

You can also, believe it or not, schedule a 1.5 hour HIKE WITH WOLVES. Contact Blackwolf Photography for prices. They recommend calling ahead for availability. (Information: 250.344.6798;

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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