March 19, 2020 by The Citron Review
We all have them, in one version or another. The flesh and bone fathers who fed us breakfasts; the mothers who disapproved of everything; the parents who donated DNA and remained an enigma; the ones who soldered our beliefs of our own inadequacy; and the ones we projected out of our imaginations.
This quarter, The Citron Review’s Creative Nonfiction selections all include the subject of parents. (No, it wasn’t a themed issue). Though a good percentage of our submissions are about parents, our pieces this quarter bring a freshness to the subject. Partly, this is because of the structures these authors have used to bring their stories to life, as well as their skillful glimpses into the complex individuals they portray. Parents can be easy targets. How do we, as writers, tell a balanced tale, exploring the good and the bad, bringing these characters to the page in their full humanity?
Choosing which material to include in an essay is one of the most critical choices an author makes in the short-form genre. We have years of experiences and a mere summary can never do them justice. Making snippets of stories dance to life in less than 1,000 words is a formidable task. Because of the word limit, the form of the piece must also do work— hard work—to add meaning for the reader. My co-editor, Nathan Elliott, and I are pleased to offer the following four pieces this quarter, which all do just that.
In “What We Can’t Do: A Father and Daughter’s List,” Anita Gill uses a parallel structure to compare what she and her father can’t do. The form leaves space for the reader to interpolate, to read between the lines and to see what they can do, to see the bigger picture of their relationship.
With his essay, “Taste: A Brief Memoir with French Toast and Popcorn,” Cal Freeman explores a childhood accident, mental health issues, and family dynamics in the context of lowbrow culinary tastes and highbrow intellectual pondering.
As a change of pace, in this issue we are also publishing two connected pieces by the same author, Claire Lawrence, with “Opera Mom” and “Opera Dad.” While these pieces use different forms, they build on each other to tell an interwoven story that informs the author’s perspective on her life.
And so, we salute parents, in all their glory. If you are a parent, you know how hard it is. If your children are older than ten, you’ve probably already seen yourself (and not in the most flattering way) reflected in school essays or Instagram posts. And if they are younger, beware: every word you utter is material.
Wishing you a joyful springtime,
Marianne Woods Cirone
Senior Creative Nonfiction Editor
The Citron Review