Notes on the CNF Selections

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October 2, 2017 by The Citron Review


As I write this, I look out my window on the downtown Houston skyline. I see the George R. Brown Convention Center where thousands of people sought refuge as Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey pummeled southeast Texas. I see Highway 288, which, somewhere between the night of August 26 and the morning of August 27, turned into what appeared to be a long, slow-flowing river outside my apartment window. Southeast Texas doesn’t have a monopoly on suffering, though.

As I write this, Hurricane Irma has made its second landfall in Florida and is whipping the state with wind and water at high speed and in slow progression several days after it did the same to Antigua and Barbuda and so many other Caribbean islands. Last week, a friend of mine who lives in Portland posted on Facebook about the smoke and ash fall from wildfires raining more burnt matter on that city and region than its inhabitants had seen since the eruption of Mount St. Helens. And this is to say nothing of the magnitude 8.1 earthquake and Hurricane Katia in Mexico, of the flooding in India and Nepal and Bangladesh that has claimed over 1,200 lives.

I write all of this not to make an argument for the end of days, but to remind us that we possess an incredible ability to rally, recover, and rebuild. And as we say goodbye to a remarkably destructive summer—even as so many of us are still cleaning up our lives in its wake, even as so many of us are still rescuing each other from rubble and rain, even as so many of us are still awaiting the worst—we must remember the impossibly hopeful moments that mark us as human, that bring us together just as cataclysm seeks to tear us apart.

And we have to remember—when we can—those moments and feelings in others’ lives that we identify in our own on some level, reminding us that we are not alone. Which is to say that we need literature now as much as we ever have, need its power to connect. We need literature like the essays we’ve selected for our Fall 2017 issue. We chose these essays not just because of the strength of their words, but because all of them convey fundamentally human emotions and desires that, we hope, will speak to you as they have spoken to us.

In “Chosen,” Jennifer Battisti illustrates vividly the “thirst” for being chosen, for worthiness, because, as she writes, “belonging will secure [her] to what seems contained and right.” In “An Elegy for Your Cat,” Charles Kaufmann skillfully reveals memory’s arresting grip in “random moments when your mind fools you with hallucinations, tricks you into seeing things that are gone, confuses you with patterns it can’t quite give up on.” Finally, Mandy Shunnarah shows us discomfort and defiance and hope in a pair of essays. “Smoke in the Water” considers an indelible adolescent experience in which she becomes “someone to pray for, condescend to, lord over.” In “Salted Wound,” she ruminates on a relationship between two people who “grasp at something that is not there and has never been.”

My fellow creative nonfiction editor, Marianne Woods Cirone, and I are glad to be able to publish these essays in the Fall 2017 issue of The Citron Review. We hope that in them you feel the longing, love, and courage that drew us to them.

Thanks for reading,
Zach Jacobs
Creative Nonfiction Editor
The Citron Review

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