In Train Dreams Denis Johnson takes us through the life of a man from near its beginnings until its end--all in less that about 100 pages.
The novel is told in a series on non-chronological vignettes and includes things like seeing Elvis Presley's train stopped in its tracks--build the (at the time) largest railroad bridge in the world, having everything one possesses destroyed in a wildfire, and being cursed by a Chinese man who was on his way to a lynching.
The novel bears repeated reading to get a sense of the time and the person. But narrated as it is, it is very much dreamlike in quality--floating, anchored only here and there by incident and event. The lack of chronological narration is an interesting and effective device for this story. The language is beautifully wrought and brings the reader very much into the mind of the main character and into the spirit of the time.
Highly Recommended *****