Adam Johnson / Feb 21, 2020

Emporium An ATF raid a moonshot gone wrong a busload of female cancer victims determined to live life to the fullest these are the compelling terrains Adam Johnson explores in his electrifying debut collecti

  • Title: Emporium
  • Author: Adam Johnson
  • ISBN: 9780142001950
  • Page: 432
  • Format: Paperback
  • An ATF raid, a moonshot gone wrong, a busload of female cancer victims determined to live life to the fullest these are the compelling terrains Adam Johnson explores in his electrifying debut collection A lovesick teenage Cajun girl, a gay Canadian astrophysicist, a teenage sniper on the LAPD payroll, a post apocalyptic bulletproof vest salesman each seeks connection andAn ATF raid, a moonshot gone wrong, a busload of female cancer victims determined to live life to the fullest these are the compelling terrains Adam Johnson explores in his electrifying debut collection A lovesick teenage Cajun girl, a gay Canadian astrophysicist, a teenage sniper on the LAPD payroll, a post apocalyptic bulletproof vest salesman each seeks connection and meaning in landscapes made uncertain by the voids that parents and lovers should fill With imaginative grace and verbal acuity, Johnson is satirical without being cold, clever without being cloying, and heartbreaking without being sentimental He shreds the veneer of our media saturated, self help society, revealing the lonely isolation that binds us all together.

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    About "Adam Johnson"

      • Adam Johnson

        Adam Johnson was born in South Dakota and raised in Arizona He earned a BA in Journalism from Arizona State University in 1992 a MFA from the writing program at McNeese State University, in 1996 and a PhD in English from Florida State University in 2000 Johnson is currently a San Francisco writer and associate professor in creative writing at Stanford University He founded the Stanford Graphic Novel Project and was named one of the nation s most influential and imaginative college professors by Playboy Magazine His fiction has appeared in Esquire, Harper s, and The Paris Review He is the author of Emporium, a short story collection and the novel, Parasites Like Us, which won the California Book Award His most recent novel, The Orphan Master s Son, won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.


    1. Man, can Adam Johnson write. (I have not yet read The Orphan Master's Son, for which he won the Pulitzer, though I plan to.) In the stories of this book, Johnson creates worlds that are off kilter, some downright bizarre, and his prose zings, barely containable on the page. Johnson's creative gifts are on full display, which at times I will admit, I was resistant to. I found myself wary of the anti-realism, not that he doesn't do it beautifully. Having been thoroughly wowed by his writing, I wil [...]

    2. Having read three of his books this year I can say that Adam Johnson is my favorite contemporary author. His stories are never conventional, sometimes venturing deep into the weird where the resulting reaction could vary from laughter to strong dislike. But what I come back to his stories for is the compassion and kindness to his characters and their troubles which are always present in his voice. Emporium for me was not as great as Johnson’s later collection of short stories, Fortune Smiles, [...]

    3. Adam Johnson's debut short story collection shows tantalizing potential. Johnson is a talented writer, and the prose on display here is strong. There is also great creativity in these stories, which feature teenage sniper experts, busloads of hard-partying cancer patients, a top-secret Canadian space program, and much more. My favorite entries (Teen Sniper and the Canadanaut) also feature sneaky-funny humor reminiscent of George Saunders; indeed, these stories are so similar to some of Saunders' [...]

    4. October 2009There is a sense of decay throughout Adam Johnson's stories, of an unraveling. Things will, eventually, fall apart; the center won't hold for long. A teen sniper for the LAPD deals with near-daily holdups and hostage situations in a juiced-up Silicon Valley, while getting girl advice from a bomb-sniffing robot. A bulletproof vest salesman loses business to the big box megastore. Canadian scientists fail to invent a death ray and struggle to land a man on the moon, a family prepares f [...]

    5. Johnson seeks connection with this one or his characters do. And in three of the stories I felt this connection as a reader too. My three favourites, Teen Sniper, Your Own Backyard and The Death-Dealing Cassini Satellite drove the point for me. The others maybe less so but still flashes from those stories keep flashing in my mind from time to time. Like with any other connections stories sometimes create a strong thread, other times the thread is more fragile or even gets lost. Johnsons gives di [...]

    6. The characters in Emporium, Adam Johnson's first book of stories, have a "newer, more optimistic vocabulary for violence." This is what Lt. Kim tells Tim, the teen police sniper, he will achieve through positive visualization during his kills in the lead story "Teen Sniper."Tim and most of the other absurd, almost nightmare humans that people Johnson's collection could be hard-partying nephews of Crash author J.G. Ballard's more claustrophobic visions of the human race. Or, considering that most [...]

    7. Pretty strong collected by Adam Johnson here. Emporium would be an enjoyable read for anyone. Off the top of my head, it's hard not to be moved by "Trauma Plate," "Teen Sniper" (the opening story), or "The Death-Dealing Cassini Satellite." Most (but not all?) of these stories are set in a near-future where the world gets a little less inhumane as a response to awful things that occur in the world. People turn to drastic measures once the world feels less accommodating. For example, "Teen Sniper" [...]

    8. There are four seamless and wildly inventive tales that illustrate excellent story-telling. This book is also a wonderful classroom text for College Reading Development. Students have consistently responded positively to reading those four stories, and many in-depth and thought provoking class discussions have been spurred by: "Teen Sniper," "Your Own Backyard," "Trauma Plate" and "The Jughead of Berlin." Highly recommended read for studying and appreciating the craft of fiction and to spark rea [...]

    9. This book struck me as a bad impression of the contemporary Ironic Male Short Story Writer. Even the diction seemed loosely formed and without a certain urgency I look for in short stories.

    10. A collection of amusing but unsatisfying stories by the great Adam Johnson, written while he was trying to discipline his voice and work through his obsessions. As a young writer, he could compose some of the funniest sentences in the history of the English language (I can't quote it without getting kicked off , but the scene from "Cananaut" in which a military hooker exposes her private parts to the Arctic cold had me cackling loud enough to wake the neighbor's sleeping infant), but strung them [...]

    11. This is the second time I've read this collection, and it was well worth rereading. From the touching to the bizarre to the comedic, Johnson has a a great imagination and a wonderful gift for words. For me 'The Canadanaut' a funny, quirky tale about a group of Canadian scientists working on death rays and moon launchings was the highlight, but every story was worth reading. Highly recommended.

    12. Varied locations, narrators, characters, but always with a serene balance of dread and hope? The stories are engaging and leave you both wanting more and content with the snapshot into the lives Johnson lays bare. Oddities and sci-fi aspects only lend to the weird and enjoyable tone. Never been disappointed with Johnson.

    13. I found this collection slow and self-regarding. Other people might love them, but the stories seemed inconclusive and a bit pointless. Perhaps that is indicative of the lives of the characters/society, but it seemed like classic MFA in creative writing style and the twists felt gimmicky.

    14. As many readers will already know from The Orphan Master's Son, Adam Johnson is a Wizard. Period. He may write the sharpest, most magical sentences of any American writing today. He creates mad, quasi-futuristic dystopias and renders them plausibly, in detail. He seems an omnivorous sponge as well as an indefatigable researcher: no one could carry as much arcane knowledge - erecting and mortaring in a wall, police sniping MO, the technology of Kevlar vests, culling the collection at the local zo [...]

    15. I have read a number of these stories more than once, but I clearly need to read them yet again since some of the reviews here that I enjoyed came from people who enjoyed stories which I thought less of than the following: "Teen Sniper", really good, “The Death-Dealing Cassini Satellite" amazing (though my opinion may have been swayed in part because of my family's personal experience with the subject matter of the story). I think that my favorite, however, may well have been "Trauma Plate". D [...]

    16. Though at first glance the nine stories of Emporium, a collection by Adam Johnson, seem to be as different from each other as a zoo full of animals in Phoenix is from a satellite base in who-knows-where Canada, the same thread winds throughout each one. I can’t quite place my finger on it, but it has something to do with this line from my favorite story of the entire collection, "Cliff Gods of Acapulco": “There’s the boxy loop of youth, a decade that leaves your ears ringing with televisio [...]

    17. Actual rating: 2.5 stars.OK, to say that I was ambivalent about this collection is a bit of an understatement. Like with any typical short story collection, you start seeing some of the same things pop up each time. With Johnson, it's zany yet oddly flat characters and ridiculously detailed arrays of weaponry/high tech for some reason. With certain stories, I couldn't help but think this collection is just the perfect example of an author writing for people who think like him, all in this hipste [...]

    18. Reading this excellent short-story collection--the second I’ve read by Adam Johnson (after the later, and amazing, Fortune Smiles)--has confirmed my ardent fandom, at least with respect to his short fiction. (I’ve yet to read his acclaimed novel.) These are dark, darkly humorous, and engaging tales; the settings and characters vary so widely, and are just so somehow specific or human or something, that I’m a bit in awe of this guy’s range. Setting aside the feeling that one or two storie [...]

    19. A bold collection of slightly-longer-than-ordinary short stories, Adam Johnson's particular style encapsulates worlds gone mad with violence, and the casual indifference of the people who live within them. His stories are at their best when they're being their most topical--"Trauma Plate" could be read as an out-and-out criticism of American gun culture--but even when a story is just about its own plot, Johnson's prose is still thick with enjoyable nostalgia. Where the collection's weakness lies [...]

    20. The best stories in this collection are the first ('Teen Sniper') and the last ('The Eighth Sea'). The others are good as well, but they pale in comparison with the two mentioned.If you are in a jolly mood, and would like to change that, this is the book for you. It said something on the cover about showing the solitude that connects us all. Boy is that true.I found myself taking a break from this book. Not because of the writing (which I thought at first), but because the stories are *heavy*. N [...]

    21. Adam Johnson wrote one of my all time favorite books. The Orphan Master's Son is one of those novels that just absolutely floored me. I would highly highly recommend it to anyone. However, his short stories have not hit me anywhere near as hard as his novel did. Now that I think of it, I think I wrote an almost exactly similar review for his new book of short stories. For some reason, his short stories do no nothing for me. They are vaguely interesting, but not really engaging. That being said, [...]

    22. So I read this one for a college course. Not bad, not bad at all. I think all of the stories were very creative and very witty. Though my favorite had to be the first; Teenage Sniper. But all of them were very interesting. I enjoyed how Johnson expirmented with different points of view (1st, 2nd, & 3rd person) and I enjoyed how he took such out there topics like creating a death ray and made it seem so normal.

    23. Johnson is a very skilled writer, but these stories are pretty opaque. I loved The Orphan Master's Son, but I think Johnson was still figuring out with this earlier work how to be subtle effectively. In Orphan Master's, he's mastered how to be subtle and clear at the same time.This book has probably four excellent stories in it, which is pretty average for collections. The ones that are good here, though, are really, really good.

    24. "The Canadanaut" was such an amazing story that it alone makes this collection worth reading. I wasn't as keen on the rest of them, but certainly the stories display deeply researched subjects and careful thought. Most are plotless however, so you have to be ok with the idea of plotless stories. Writing style reminded me quite a bit of Wells Towers.

    25. Johnson is quite a talented young writer, mining the vein between Kurt Vonnegut and a juvenile version of Raymond Carver. His use of metaphor verges on magical realism at times and distracts from the morality plays at hand--which also evoke Palahniuk--but this is a small quibble in a collection that is mostly very satisfying.

    26. Disappointing short story collection by the author of Orphan Master's Son, which I thought was a fantastic book. I am still looking forward to reading his newer story collection Fortune Smiles, which just won the National Book Award, as I heard him read from it at the Wisconsin Book Fest, but none of the stories in this older collection of futuristic stories appealed to me.

    27. A bit too madcap for it's own good sometimes - certainly falls prey to the modern obsession with idiosyncratic detail (teenage sniper, Canadian Scientists working on a Death Ray, etc.) but at it's best it transcends all it's overly whacked out details. The endings are especially good.

    28. Adam Johnson writes amazing, weird, intense, disturbing characters. These short stories are almost too much. I really look forward to his next novel since I loved The Orphan Master's Son.

    29. An eclectic collection of stories that are as clever as they are affecting. Johnson seems like a talent to watch.

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