Johnson’s third novel, In the Night Cafe, is based on the story of her first husband, the painter James Johnson, who was killed only a year after their wedding in a motorcycle accident. A chapter of the novel was first published in Harper’s as a short story, and won first prize in the O’Henry Awards. The story is sad and doomed from the start, and it depicts the debilitating power that memories sometimes have. This novel is said to be the one that established Johnson as one of the best authors of the Beat Generation.
In the Night Cafe was published in 1989 by Washington Square Press