GAVE MY BOOK A POSITIVE REVIEW on a partial reading, I figure I’m entitled to return the favor. Not that there’s a cause-and-effect relationship there or anything, I’m just using that as an excuse to get to plug my friend, LB Johnson’s book, The Book of Barkley, which has only now hit my bedside nightstand and sits as I write, right to-hand, atop my journal. If I believed in magic, I’d see a kind of a wish there, that my writing would absorb some of her lyrical voice from the cover-to-cover contact. (Good on the Kirkus reviewer for spotting it. It’s what I’ve loved about her voice from first encountering her blog lo these many years ago.) But I don’t, so it’s just a stack of books. But the one on top has the possibility of becoming a classic.
By which, I mean a book you love and return to in actuality and in your heart again and again. I should take this side track here and note that, as a kid, I read what I thought of as “animal” stories voraciously. Almost as voraciously as I read fantasy and science fiction these days. I look back on my days of free rein in the Lotspiech School’s library — Robert Lawson’s Rabbit Hill books; A Ring of Bright Water; and, yes, Beatrix Potter; Incredible Journey; Kipling’s The Jungle Books; Jack London; hometown hero Albert Payson Terhune — a family friend, I’m proud to say — with a warm, deep, nostalgic glow. The magic and wonder suffusing my set-upon pre-adolescent soul; the mystical places the stories transported me to; the warmth and humanity that moved me to love animals as friends and neighbors on Spaceship Earth (to use an utterly inappropriate hippie reference). This is the pantheon in which I mean to install The Book of Barkley.
Since this is a SHORT-form review, I’ll stop here by saying, “I’d almost rather you buy this book than mine.” It’s that good. That important. LB doesn’t need my help; she’s succeeding on her own, considerable merits. But I put my shoulder to the wheel nevertheless and lend my slight weight to the push. Buy this book.