Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke.

Discussing new and classic works.
Jan. 3 2008 12:19 PM

The Audio Book Club

Our critics discuss Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke.

To listen to the Slate Audio Book Club on Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke, click the arrow on the player below.

You can also download the audio file here, or click here to subscribe to the Slate Audio Book Club feed in iTunes.

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The Audio Book Club kicks off the new year with a lively discussion of Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke, which won the 2007 National Book Award for Fiction. Slate literary editor Meghan O'Rourke, Slate contributor and NYU professor Katie Roiphe, and Slate contributor and New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki debate the merits of Johnson's novel. Does it deserve the acclaim it received, or is it a wildly overrated book, as an Atlantic essay recently suggested? And what does the "tree of smoke" refer to? The 45-minute conversation explores these and many other questions.

If you'd like to get an early start on the next book-club selection, we've chosen Elizabeth Gilbert's best seller, Eat, Pray, Love, which Katie Roiphe described as a "transcendently great beach book" in her July 2007 review. Watch for—and listen to—our Audio Book Club about Eat, Pray, Love in early February.

You can also listen to any of our previous club meetings by clicking on the links below *:

Questions? Comments? Write to us at podcasts@slate.com. (E-mailers may be quoted by name unless they request otherwise.)

* To download the MP3 file,right-click (Windows) or hold down the Control key while you click (Mac), and then use the "save" or "download" command to save the audio file to your hard drive.

Meghan O'Rourke is Slate's culture critic and an advisory editor. She was previously an editor at The New Yorker. The Long Goodbye, a memoir about her mother's death, is now out in paperback.

Katie Roiphe, professor at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, is the author of Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Marriages and In Praise of Messy Lives.

James Surowiecki writes the financial column at The New Yorker.

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