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I set down this book with my ears ringing and my chest aching, everything around me electric and amplified It s really that good This collection is full of gut punching, stunning prose, solid workmanship, and quiet skill Barb Johnson s haunting debut collection follows four characters anchored to a laudromat in New Orleans Delia, who runs the laudromat and her younger brother Dooley Pudge, whose aunt owns the building and Pudge s son Luis, who sleeps in an abandoned car across the street Delia says, There s real trouble in the world The kind that can t be fixed And Johnson does not shy away from this trouble Her characters are set against a backdrop of abuse, addiction, and senseless violence Yet Johnson doesn t wallow in the spectacle of poverty or over simplify or sanitize the ugliness If Johnson shows us the worst we are capable of, she also offers us glimpses of light, small acts of unexpected kindness Delia reassures us, Love is not trouble There is real trouble in the world, but there is real magic, too No sentimentality, no easy answers You WILL cry, but Johnson will also earn those tears. Highly recommend this collection of stories Olive Kitteridge won the Pulitzer but this book does what Olive Kitteridge tried to do TEN times better The writing is beautiful, the stories fluid and the tone is exceptional This is truly an amazing work. 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 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 tell stories that are heartbreaking, yet at the same time very hopeful.Again, refreshing.Indeed, More of This World or Maybe Another, is a very refreshing collection of interconnecting stories that reads like a novel in stories than simply a story collection To read this is to see the characters grow fully in a world gorgeously painted in all of his beauty and ugliness Barb Johnson is surely a writer to keep an eye on With already several wins in the literary world, Johnson is indeed someone we expect to hear from for quite a while. This is a very intimate and loving collection of short stories centered around the families that live near Bubbles Laundromat in Gremilion, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans Major themes of weather, water, and racism take a backseat in these tales and Barb Johnson reveals the inner lives of her characters with spare and at the same time lyrical language Matriarchs of the community, Big Luce and Aunt Alma, who own the laundromat, hover in the background in these tales while the younger generations, male and female, struggle to find their way among the minefields of alcoholism, crime and drug addiction, mental illness, sexual abuse, and family tragedies At the calm center are Delia, from the neighborhood, and Maggie, a bohemian transplant, who run the laundromat and create a family with one another and whose love is a sustaining force in the neighborhood. Growing up in New Orleans, Delia is fighting to better her life amidst poverty, violence, and questioning her own sexuality She lusts for her boyfriend s sister who, although never mentioned, is hinted to be a lesbian Johnson uses quiet humor, informal but muscular language, metaphor, and wisdom in several linked short stories I read a review that dubbed this novel lesbian fiction for grownups, but and maybe I m dense because I m neither a woman nor homosexual although Delia s main conflict is dealing with suppressed feelings of homosexual and sexual desire, I never thought of the novel as lesbian fiction I read the story about a beautiful and believable character who happens to be gay, which helps steer her life s decisions Perhaps Johnson intentionally commentated on homophobia, showing her readers that her character is as human as anyone else despite her sexual orientation Or maybe she was actually writing lesbian fiction for grownups Either way, reading Johnson s work makes my Muse salivate, envious, want to throw things at the wall in a jealous rage My Muse wants to write simplistic, elegant lines like this In the other direction, night rolled out as far as Delia could see There s a swamp out there, she knows, and the Gulf of Mexico Beyond that, there could be anything More of this world or maybe another 17 I want to tell everyone and no one about this book of short stories I feel like it s something I can treasure An almost unknown author that is mine But at the same time I need to share this book I ve always defined great writing with something language, ideas, etc that I m envious of, something I wish I had written whether a sentence or a chapter In Barb Johnson s debut book of short stories, there was not one sentence that I did not wish I had written. One of the best books I ve read all year Two of the best stories I ve ever read. There is something breathless and impressive about this book It seems natural to say that reading a book by Cather or McCullers or a series of short stories by Welty is the best I ever read, but this newer book is one of the best I ve ever read.the chapter If the Spirit Comes for you is perhaps the most moving passage I ve ever read.it is like the ringing in your ears before a faint, it is like the smell of rain before the storm, it is like the static in the air when heat lightning streaks across the sky never touching groundif nothing else, a reader should read this chapter.I m from the south and everything about this book brought me home, as if I was visiting it and all its raw heat and attitudes like a phantom I keep checking to see if Johnson has published again, and place her up there with E Annie Proulx in my favorite modern authors list. Love is not trouble It is all we have to light our days, to bring music to the time we ve been given So says Delia Delahoussaye, one of the main characters in Barb Johnson s somewhat bleak but beautifully written story collection, More of This World or Maybe Another Spanning than 20 years, following the lives of four friends and relatives in New Orleans, the interconnected stories in this collection are about the sometimes redemptive and sometimes destructive power of love, of the chances we take that sometimes succeed and sometimes fail In Keeping Her Difficult Balance, Delia struggles between living the life she is supposed to and the one she wants Killer Heart follows Delia s brother, Dooley, as his life changes with just one split second decision In What Was Left, Delia s friend, Pudge, who survived a traumatic childhood, is trying to find his way to rebuilding his life, and in St Luis of Palmyra, Pudge s son, Luis, invents his own saint as a way of escaping the life around him Johnson is a magnificent writer She truly loves these characters, which makes you feel the same way about them While I didn t love every story in the collection, and at least one was gratuitously cruel I just skimmed that story , I m still thinking about this book and wondering what will happen to the characters next I believe Johnson hit her mark with her first book I eagerly await what will come next for her. (Pdf) Ä More of This World or Maybe Another â From The Backstreets Of New Orleans To The Rural Gulf Coast This Is The Territory Johnson Mines So Unforgettably In Her Debut Story Collection Filled With Humor And Pathos, With The Nearness And Danger Of Life On The Edge, These Stories Chart The Anxious Inner Moments Of Four Related CharactersJohnson Introduces The Teenage Delia In The Midst Of Working Up The Nerve For A First Kiss And Dooley, Who Drives A Forklift For A Living But Dreams Of A Career In Music That S Been Put On Ice After A Tragic Accident Pudge, An Alcoholic Who Survived A Cruel Childhood With An Abusive Father, Now Hides From His Own Son, Luis And Luis, Raised Without A Father, Concocts A Suitable End For His Mother S Horrible Boyfriend Determined To Save Both Pudge And His Son From An Unhappy End, Johnson S Cast Of Characters Huddles Together At The Local Laundromat, SchemingJohnson S Stories Are Sweet, Messy, And Heart Rending As We Watch Her Characters Through Her Wide Angle Lens, She Makes Us Believe That Life Is Worth Living Even When The Circumstances Say Otherwise Irresistible And Perfect, More Of This World Or Maybe Another Introduces An Original Voice In American Fiction Excellent book of short stories Well written, with complex characters The only reason I didn t give it stars is because it was painful to read It ultimately ends on a somewhat uplifting note, but I was fairly tortured during parts of the book Once upon a time, that would have been practically a prerequisite for me to enjoy a book, but I have become a softie with age, and being witness to the suffering some of these characters went through was too much at times there was one story I only was able to skim the last couple pages of, due to the involvement of an animal Having said all that, I still highly recommend this book, especially if you haven t morphed into a lit wienie like I have.