Notes on the Creative Nonfiction Selections

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December 22, 2021 by The Citron Review

As 2021 comes to an end and a new year approaches, I’m thinking about change and challenge. It seems you can’t have one without the other, with change comes the challenge to navigate it, to fight or accept it. I reflect over the past year’s changes in my life, how sometimes I accepted it and sometimes I fought it but how, every time, change happened whether I wanted it or not. There has been a challenge attached to every change in my life and a new year always presents a big one. It’s scary and exciting at the same time to face a future you can not possibly predict or manipulate, although we certainly try! And, to an extent, we must try. We must face change and try to do better, be better, learn something of value even from the past hard knocks in our lives. 

Every new year I select a quote and a word to inspire and guide me through the coming year. For 2022 I’ve selected the word “Willing” and the following quote from The Devil and Miss Prym by Paul Coelho:

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.”

Essay and Memoir are genres that naturally gravitate to reflections of change and challenge. It’s so gratifying reading the Creative Nonfiction submissions we receive at Citron and, yes, a challenge to select the few that make it to publication. Our six writers in this Winter Issue are eloquent and earnest in their stories of challenging events in their lives. 

In “Who We Are Now”, Lori Yeghiayan Friedman is one of three old friends who are reduced to two when one tragically dies. She reflects on their past while waiting for the Coroner. 

“I look over at William next to me on the stoop and try to picture what we look like. Who are we now that we are two?

The sound of men’s dress shoes on pavement slices into our silence. We see the funeral director coming and instantly understand the error of calling a place from the Yellow Pages.”

Susan Barr-Toman is a new neighbor sharing common walls in “The Nature of Rowhomes”. One of her neighbors attempts to school her on neighborly etiquette but Susan cleverly turns the tables. 

“She explained to me with pride how this forty-something bachelor no longer used his rowing machine after 10pm, because she could hear it. She knew what he was up to and she found it annoying.” 

A student reaches out to teacher Jennifer Murvin in “Hexapoda” even as she realizes she can’t fix this young person’s problem. But she can assist her in seeking help. 

“I am sorry you are seeing bugs where there are no bugs, that you are young and sick, that you are alone with me, a stranger, your teacher, that I am seeing something I am probably not supposed to see.”

Suzanne LaFetra Collier faces her father’s death with grace in the beautifully lyrical “Praise”. She achieves a delicate balance of grief and gratitude while keeping her eyes wide open to past sorrow and challenges. 

“In praise of nurses who hold the phone to an ear so we can say goodbye. In praise of scientists who splice genes. In praise of healthcare workers, sliding tiny needles into the thick meat of our shoulders, making it almost safe to breathe once more.”

Charles Michael Fischer reminisces about his time in an in-patient mental health facility and a tech who touched his life in “H-O-R-S-E”. Time, place, and cultural details are especially strong in his piece, taking you right into the mind of a troubled young man. 

“Dix is a huge campus—not a college campus—but a campus where dreams die, where patients are only tested to see what’s wrong with them. I’ve never taken a college tour or the PSAT. I don’t have college dreams because I can’t see tomorrow.”

A mindful observer, Mary Slowik takes us on a sensory journey with her three piece micro memoir, “Antipasti”, riffing on walks, days, and light.

“ …and though you can’t lift light to your lips unless it’s a magic elixir, you can walk into it, be in it, even dance in it…”

It’s been a pleasure bringing stellar CNF reading to you this year, dear reader. May we dance into 2022 embracing its light and meeting its challenges. 

 

Charlotte Hamrick
Creative Nonfiction Editor
The Citron Review

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