The Laughing Monsters Review
Click here to buy posters
In Association with
Unabridged Audiobook: 5 CDs (6 hours)
Read by Scott Shepherd

As technology continues to shrink our world, it seems that there are few places left that remain truly foreign. But in the audio version of his short novel, The Laughing Monsters, author Denis Johnson takes readers on a deadly expedition through a dark and distant land.

The Laughing Monsters journeys through Africa with Danish-American Roland Nair, who’s been summoned to Freetown, Sierra Leone, by his old friend and partner in crime, Michael Adriko. Michael claims that he simply wants Nair to travel with him and his latest fiancée, a beautiful young American named Davidia, to his Ugandan village for their wedding. But just as Michael is staying quiet for the other reason for their journey—one that may involve the sale of uranium—Nair is hiding the fact that he’s been sent by NATO Intelligence to find out what Michael is up to. And as they travel through villages and across borders, their adventure only becomes darker and more dangerous.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us haven’t visited the smaller villages of Africa—and we probably never will. And, for that reason, there’s something captivating about this fictional journey through foreign lands—something that’s made all the more mystical by Johnson’s almost lyrical writing style. This isn’t just another fast-paced thriller; it’s a literary journey that’s meant to be savored instead of devoured.

In a way, The Laughing Monsters is like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness—a dangerous and deliberate journey through hostile lands. Along the way, the characters’ already unstable constitutions slowly crumble, and both men are increasingly absorbed into the darkness that surrounds them. Theirs is a story of love, greed, and ever-changing loyalties—so constantly shifting, in fact, that you’ll never really know how it will all end. And Scott Shepherd’s growling narration works perfectly with the grit and peril of the characters’ adventures.

Still, there’s so much going on here—so many betrayals and negotiations and back-alley deals—that it’s hard to keep track of everything. It isn’t easy to get a feel for Nair, either—for his motivations, his intentions, and his plans. And it’s even more difficult if you happen to be listening to the audio version while trying to navigate highway traffic. So, in order to get the full effect, you might want to skip the audio version and pick up the hardcover edition instead.

The Laughing Monsters is a challenging read—one that will take you through the darkest parts of both the continent and the characters. It’s also a fascinating journey—but one that requires both time and concentration.

Listen to the review on Shelf Discovery:

Submissions Contributors Advertise About Us Contact Us Disclaimer Privacy Links Awards Request Review Contributor Login
© Copyright 2002 - 2018 All rights reserved.