Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Review: "More of This World or Maybe Another" by Barb Johnson

"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 more 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.

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