Johanna, an artist, and Matt, a music critic, couldn't be more different, but by some twist of fate, she plucks him from a crowd at a Dylan concert. What follows is a heady and intense relationship buffeted by the usual suspects that gently rocked the '80s. Matt's lessons in art-as well as life-at the hands of Johanna, drive the novel into pockets of feminism and quiet revolution. All of this is tempered by deeply held secrets.
A meditation on art and unrest, Visions of Johanna celebrates life, love, memory and the undying power of the deep connections that sustain us. The novel follows Johanna and Matt as they pursue their dreams. But burdening problems collide with these artistic desires and other forces conspire against them. Ultimately, the two are done in by their inability to share aspects of their past they believe they must hide from.
Within this book's pages, tragedies haunt, acts of moral goodness manifest themselves, and benevolence reigns with a finality that absolves all."
Peter Sarno taught literature and memoir courses at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and has published essays, reviews, and short stories. While a graduate student at UMASS, he won the Donald E Cookson prize in nonfiction. His work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Music World magazine, Sweet Po-tato, Gannet newspapers, Gatehouse Media, and oth-er outlets. Visions of Johanna is his first published novel.
Sarno’s Visions of Johanna traverses a wide expanse of territory: geographic, emotional and experiential. From the working-class streets of Revere, Massachusetts, to rural Wisconsin and the East Village—from neighborhood kids’ baseball, to feminist film festivals and Dylan concerts—from childhood tragedy to unfulfilled love and middle-aged emotional breakthroughs. It’s a highly charged, loaded book told through unflinching prose—clean, precise, never decorative—lyrical and at times poetic. I always know I’m reading good writing when I get to the end of passages and think: I wish I wrote that!—Joseph Torra, author of My Ground Trilogy
"Treat yourself to a slice-of-life tale about two people who fall in love and change each other's lives forever...filled to the brim with nostalgia, romance, and a hearty appreciation of the arts. ...A stellar debut."
"Sarno does a masterful job of dissecting love to its barest roots and greatest pains in his complex novel…and so well captures the signals associated with budding relationships that readers will reminisce about their own affairs at that crazy stage when they feel something happening and don’t quite know what it means or what to do. Visions of Joanna created flash images for me of The Way We Were and Love Story – only in the way that love can look so right at one point and then suddenly face storm clouds. But those comparisons of commercial-centric, manipulated vehicles are not fair to the literary, crafty and intricate work the author provides in his narrative and in his fine writing. Maybe Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage is more apropos. …This fine novel will make readers think, it will move them deeply, and challenge their senses and comprehension."