For the May Readers Review, we chose a work that was shortlisted for this year's Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It's a novella by Denis Johnson titled "Train Dreams." It begins in 1917 in the Idaho panhandle. The central character works the railroads and virgin forests that fueled America's push for economic progress. He experiences tragedy and wonder, and his life echoes the hardship and beauty of a nation on the cusp of radical change. He's quietly heroic, simply by surviving. Diane and her guests discuss this portrait of a man and a place, by the author of "Tree of Smoke," winner of the 2007 National Book Award.
Excerpted from TRAIN DREAMS by DENIS JOHNSON. Published in 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2002 by DENIS JOHNSON. All rights reserved.