Notes on the Creative Nonfiction Selections

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December 22, 2016 by The Citron Review

Precision is one of many things that we look for in submissions at Citron. Precise, controlled language is important in the realization of voice, tone, and pacing, which is to say that it is crucial as an element of craft. All of us can recall instances in which we were compelled to stop and revisit a line, a stanza, a sentence, a paragraph, even a whole piece of writing in order to relish the language that wouldn’t seem to let us go.

“Consequences,” by Fred Everett Maus, is an illustrative example of precision. Fred writes with a slow, halting pace even as the edges of the world are burning. Beginning with rumination on roasted red peppers, “Consequences” then takes an unnerving turn. But he doesn’t let us see what is coming too soon. We are led, slowly, to realize the ways in which fire gives and takes, but perhaps more than anything, how it reveals. At no point are we unaware of the fact that he is in control of what we will discover, and when.

Similarly, Cole Meyer is exact in “Outside Our Apartment in Germany, 1996.” Opening with the description of a family photo, Meyer carefully places a glimpse of what the image will tell: “Dad’s face is like a mirror of mine; loss hasn’t yet been etched in the corners of his eyes.” And as description gives way to recollection, we begin to see the sentence structure unravel with the introduction of disease, anxiety, wasting, and death. But the unravelling is intentional and, again, controlled—accurately representative of the tumbling vagaries of life.

We hope you enjoy these four pieces as much as we did.

Zach Jacobs
Creative Nonfiction Editor

*

One of the most important gifts of literature is the experience of shared humanity: we see that we are not alone, despite so often feeling that we are an outsider in some way, alone in our aloneness.

In “Boxed In,” Jennifer Lang explores her role as an outsider, both in her family, and in an adopted homeland fraught with violence. She uses language rhythmically, interweaving complex, exploratory sentences with shorter, declarative ones. Lang knits together her words into a stable structure that balances the un-grounding nature of her experiences–her fear for her life, her family, her country.

In “Falling and Flying: Rediscovering Language,” Maxima Kahn offers a lyric essay on language itself. In the mood of “The Act of Writing” by Mona Dash (Citron Fall 2016), Kahn creates a probing dialogue, marrying philosophical exploration with crystal clear imagery. She brings us as close as her hands, her heart, her breath, to the deep of the woods and the dark of the night, considering all the while how stories connect us–our human drama of falling down and climbing back up again.

Thank you for connecting through words.

Marianne Cirone
Creative Nonfiction Editor

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Snow on brush in desert

IMAGE CREDIT: Jill Katherine Chmelko. Protest Road, Winter. 2019.

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