More of This World or Maybe Another
By Barb Johnson
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780061732270, 208pp.)
Publication Date: November 2009
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The lives of four unlikely friends intersect on the backstreets of New Orleans. Living amid poverty and violence, these fragile heroes of the American underclass redefine our notions of family, redemption, and love.
Barb Johnson has been a carpenter in New Orleans for more than twenty years. In 2008 she received her MFA from the University of New Orleans. While there, she won a grant from the Astraea Foundation, Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers, and Washington Square's short story competition. She is the fifth recipient of AROHO's $50,000 Gift of Freedom. This is her first collection.
“[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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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