Johnny Newport (2016)
ISBN 9781329823167
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (02/16)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘In Defense of the Moth: or A Meaningless Dance in the Blinding Heat and Light’ by Johnny Newport on Blogcritics.

“In Defense of the Moth: or A Meaningless Dance in the Blinding Heat and Light” by Johnny Newport is the story of Johnny Gomez, a young man, a loner, with a unique perspective on the world, and life in general. His quirky habits, peculiar obsessions, and a somewhat eccentric relationship with the moon, makes Johnny is an interesting character to say the least.

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After one particularly challenging day, Johnny is eager to meet up with fellow astronomy society members, not really to socialize, but to rejuvenate by spending several hours in contemplation studying the moon. When Johnny suddenly realizes the moon has disappeared and no longer exists – but only to him and no one else, everything he knows and holds dear – in fact, his very sanity, is threatened. 

The story is, for the most part, narrated by Johnny, with very little interaction from other characters, except for an occasional sentence or two from his ex-wife, his partner at work, or his best friend, “the Jew,” and it works quite well in the context of this story. There is however, significant interaction from another character towards the end of the book, and I have to say I really enjoyed this part of the story the most.

It is possible that up until this point I was a bit lonely inside Johnny’s head and welcomed the company. Well, lonely and a bit uncomfortable, because honestly, Johnny is one bizarre character. It is also possible that my discomfort stemmed from relating so easily to many of his quirks, and was perhaps too familiar with some of his idiosyncrasies. At any rate, it was in those final chapters that I really learned who Johnny was, or came to understand the kind of person I wanted him to be; and that is part of the appeal of this book – the almost poetic openness to individual interpretation.

I found the writing to be vastly entertaining, clever, and very well done. I highly recommend “In Defense of the Moth” by Johnny Newport. It is a distinctive story that will stimulate consideration, long after reading the last sentence.