Denis Johnson, whose epic novel Tree of Smoke (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) won the 2007 National Book Award in fiction and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, will begin testing new literary waters this summer with a serial novel, written on deadline for and published in installments in Playboy, the New York Times reported. Beginning with the July issue, which goes on sale this Friday, Playboy will feature a ten-thousand-word section of the noir novel Nobody Move each month. The final installment will appear in October.
As for the impetus behind his new project, Johnson said in a statement, “I’ve always admired Charles Dickens, who wrote big, involved novels in monthly installments and I wanted to find out what it was like. It’s a little nerve-racking.”
At a National Book Awards reading in April, Johnson read an excerpt of the new work, involving a gambler, the bookie to whom he is indebted, a big gun, and a Cadillac. At the reading, Johnson described Nobody Move as a tale of “a man down on his luck who meets a damsel in distress,” Gregory Cowles reported on the New York Times Paper Cuts blog.
Johnson’s short fiction has appeared previously in Playboy; the magazine published his story “The Starlight on Idaho” in the February 2007 issue.