A perusal of the back of More of This World or Maybe Another, a novel in stories, doesn’t offer up character names or any of the details typically emphasized in book descriptions. It makes simple statements about four people who are coming together and forming friendships- that I might add don’t necessarily make sense on paper- but that grow naturally as they make their way through lives which are equal parts tragic, surprising, and just as they expected them to be.
I like that I didn’t have any information beyond that very brief synopsis because that is truly all that you need to know before beginning this marvelous and emotionally present set of stories. As soon, and I really really mean as soon, as I started reading these stories I was touched by the emotions experienced by these characters- they are almost tangible. I was a girl on the brink of exploring her sexuality, a woman trapped in an unsatisfying relationship and a boy going against what’s in his nature to meet the requirements of family. Startling in her ability to portray feelings, as well as evoke them from the reader, Johnson had me wound around her finger in every moment.
Set partially in New Orleans and surrounding rural communities, More of This World or Maybe Another is a quiet gem that delves deeply within human experience and emotion to expose the fine weave of delicate, sheltered psyches and even more fragile relationships. As spare as it is rich and complete, I read this book in one sitting and still think about the people I met within its pages.