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More of This World or Maybe Another Paperback – October 20, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 Original edition (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061732273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061732270
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her debut collection, Johnson maps the lives of several New Orleanians who orbit Delia Delahoussaye's Laundromat on Palmyra Street, where saying hello and fighting can sound just alike. The title story finds a stoned teenage Delia longing to kiss a girl named Chuck in the belly of an empty oil tank, a makeshift sense-deprivation chamber that Delia thinks shakes you loose from yourself. By the end of the second story, Keeping Her Difficult Balance, it's unclear whether Delia will ever escape her childhood identity. If the Holy Spirit Comes for You finds her brother, Dooley, nursing a pig his uncles want to slaughter, and the story's moral nuance and consequences echo through Killer Heart, where an older Dooley's good deeds lead to tragedy. In Titty Baby, a child called Pudge must protect his baby sister from an abusive father. Years later, in St. Luis of Palmyra, Pudge's child creates his own criminal code of conduct. Johnson has a deep well of empathy for her characters, and her book's big heart beats strongest when portraying Mid-City's most marginal characters. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“[A] gorgeous debut collection…heartbreakingly poignant…if a short story is a slice of life, then the sum of this collection shows the power of a moment, of how a whole life is ultimately comprised of its slices.” (Powells.com)

“In this book, the music is earned by muscular language, empathy and emotional courage. The writing alone is a rare, sweet joy. Like a drop of water from Delia’s leaky faucet, each story in this brilliant collection breaks open in a fit of shine.” (LambdaLiterary.org)

“Johnson is pitch-perfect in her spare yet lyrical descriptions, especially those of male-femaleinteractions, how going to war changes soldiers, and how love can be damaged or destroyed, asDelia describes her affair with Maggie as ‘a tear in my soul that just won’t heal.’ An insightful literary gem.” (Booklist)

“Barb Johnson’s beautiful and touching stories stirred up emotions in me that few books ever have…I hate to admit it, [but] I actually cried over a pig in one of the stories, and I used to work in a meatpacking plant!” (Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff)

“What a pitch-perfect, utterly original, dazzlingly flexible narrative voice Barb Johnson has. Her collection of gritty, sad, funny stories from the Gulf Coast, More of This World or Maybe Another, is a truly exciting debut.” (Robert Olen Butler, Pulitizer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain and Severance)

“Precise and gorgeous language...A wonderful sense of humor..Pathos made over into something much more effective--a vision of all these people just doing the best they can. These are stunning stories...the kind that reveal, enlarge, and make living seem worth the trouble.” (Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina)

“In this wickedly fine debut, Barb Johnson proves herself a master of the short story. Both the familiar and the extraordinary come to life on every page, and her characters will haunt you for a very long time.” (Joseph Boyden, author of Through Black Spruce, winner of Canada’s 2008 Giller Prize)

“This debut is elemental, precise, and charged with ragged, intimate grace. As the collection’s heroine Delia says to her lover, I would say to all readers: ‘Come see.’” (David Schickler, author of Kissing in Manhattan)

More About the Author

Barb Johnson worked as a carpenter in New Orleans for more than twenty years before receiving her MFA from the University of New Orleans in 2008.

Her writing has earned a number of awards, including the Robert F. Gibbons Award, the Svenson Award for Fiction, the Gulf Coast Teachers of Creative Writing Award for Fiction, Glimmer Train's Best New Voice Award and Washington Square's Best Fiction Award.

Her work has appeared in various magazines and journals, including Glimmer Train Stories, Washington Square, The Greensboro Review, Guernica and The Oxford American.

In 2009, she received a two-year grant from A Room of Her Own Foundation--

http://www.aroomofherown.org/GOF/Barbara_Johnson.php

--which will support the writing of her first novel.

She lives and writes in New Orleans.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
She truly loves these characters, which makes you feel the same way about them.
Larry Hoffer
It's a beautifully crafted collection of interlocked short stories that to me really announces the arrival of a major literary talent on the scene.
DavidWatts
The characters are so beautiful and sometimes sad, and the stories are so well crafted.
Pam F

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By De Las Montanas on November 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazing to find a collection of short stories that leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat -- not just to find out what happens next, but to get that next drug-like dose of language. This is a GREAT read, immensely affecting, the writing gorgeous but seemingly effortless, and set in an intriguing place (Mid City, New Orleans). Barb Johnson aims high and then exceeds all expectations. I can't wait for the next one.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. Hebert on December 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was hooked on Barb Johnson's book from the first paragraph. She created unique characters who I really cared about. I loved getting to know them and being involved in their lives. The only problem with this book was that it left me wanting more of Barb Johnson's stories. Can't wait for the next book!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sonja Livingston on December 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
Gorgeous language! This is a killer collection from writer who infuses wisdom into her stunning prose, and manages, somehow, to create characters who break into our hearts and remind us of the need for generosity in an all too cold world. There are so many riches in the writing and in these stories that I had to set the book on my lap from time to time just to catch my breath and soak it all in! From Pudge's homemade valentine heart, Delia's gift shoes, Luis' catechism book, Chuck's "black-black" eyes and the lines on the back of Maggie's neck: Barb Johnson's 'people' and the sweet sadness of the things they bring with them will stay with me for a long time to come.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By YouFightLikeAnneRice.Blogspot.Com on December 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
Reading Barb Johnson's debut collection is like catching up on old friends after high school, then after college, then when you're in your late 30s. Within the 9 stories that is what we get as we follow four friends in the back streets of New Orleans as they try to deal with life and its discontents.

When readers of short fiction think of the working class and their struggles, they are apt to think of Raymond Carver, whose tales of poverty pinched at the back of your brain with an utter sadness and grittiness. While Johnson's stories does follow the disenfranchised and forgotten, the difference is that her stories teeter on hope. All of her characters are in the space between giving up, yet not quite. The title of the collection captures it all: More of This World Or Maybe Another; or more of what we have now or maybe it might change. Her characters are hopeful in that way, seeing towards the future while living lives of drug addicts, lovers with hearts broken, and guilty consciousness of not being able to provide. Johnson's stories are about survivors not after the fact, but during the tumultuous events of their lives: we are seeing survivors surviving with sparkles of hope in their eyes. Johnson's worldview presented here is refreshing.

Her language is also remarkably her own as she skillfully maneuvers with different people and different personalities: like Delia, who struggles with grasping a foothold in this world that she is never quite used to, but was always there in front of her; there's Pudge, haunted by days of ridiculed in childhood, events which follows him attacking his manhood; there's Dooley who can't really seem to understand the world around him. All these characters and more tell stories that are heartbreaking, yet at the same time very hopeful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DavidWatts on January 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
Well, what can i say, i loved this book. It's a beautifully crafted collection of interlocked short stories that to me really announces the arrival of a major literary talent on the scene. I'm not one to get teary eyed reading fiction, but - for one example - "If The Holy Spirit Comes For You" is a story so real, so wonderfully constructed that it would take a heart of stone not to be moved by what you read. And that is Barb Johnson's great gift - she creates characters who are real, and evokes a world which although alien to my own experiences I felt totally at home in while I was devouring these stories. Great stuff.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eva M. Langston on December 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
Barb Johnson's More of This World and Maybe Another is a collection of related stories about a cast of intriguing characters all living on Palmyra Street in New Orleans. The stories mostly center around Delia, a lesbian from Cajun country who opens a Laundromat around which much of the action centers. Each story can stand alone, and yet, when read together, they show a brilliant evolution and interweaving of worlds. By the end of the book, I felt as if I knew all of the characters, their histories, their heartaches, and maybe even their futures.

It is not often that I can sit down and read an entire collection of short stories in one sitting, but with Johnson's book, I practically did just that. At the end of each one, I wanted more. I got to the end of the last story and kept on gobbling, hungrily reading the "About the Author" and "Notes on the Wall" in an effort to consume every last crumb.

Johnson writes about a gritty world of drug addicts and abuse, of adultery and loss, and yet her prose is beautiful and poignant; even little things seem to take on big meanings: "at the sink, a drop of water swells at the mouth of the spigot," Delia says. "I look away so I don't have to watch it fall (156)." In addition, each title in the collection is so perfect, so carefully lifted from the text itself, that I found their music and meaning resonating with me long after I'd finished the stories.

In many collections, after awhile, I tire of the author's style and subject matter and feel as if I'm reading the same story over and over. But not so with Johnson's collection. She mixes up her style and tone by telling stories from different points of view, sometimes in third person and sometimes in first.
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