The Archives: Denis Johnson and Train Dreams

Though Train Dreams has only recently been issued in hardcover, many readers first read it in the Summer 2002 issue of The Paris Review. And what an issue: Johnson’s novella shared space with new work by Aleksandar Hemon and Rick Moody.

To mark the occasion, The University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center has generously shared some of Johnson’s notes and drafts from his archive, which is currently being processed.

Many know the Ransom Center from their acquisition of David Foster Wallace’s papers. (Or rather, that’s how I first heard of it.) I visited  this past March while in town for SXSW, and only upon entering their gleaming new facility did I realize they’ve amassed a world-class collection of writers’ papers, including Don DeLillo, Bernard Malamud, William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, and, most recently, J.M. Coetzee. You can lose days in their collections.

Here you’ll find fragments of various Train Dreams drafts and notes, as well as revisions of Johnson’s essay “Why I Write.”

All images courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center. Verbatim discs photo by Anthony Maddaloni. (NB: The Center is currently processing Denis Johnson’s archive, which will be accessible once catalogued.)

See Also:

An Excerpt from Train Dreams

Anthony Doerr reviews Train Dreams in the New York Times Book Review

James Wood reviews Train Dreams in the New Yorker