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Thursday, September 7, 2017

University Librarian Reviews Creative Nonfiction

Subtitle: Creative Nonfiction
Author: Carol Smallwood
Genre: Creative Nonfiction
Publisher: Shanti Arts Publishing, Brunswick, Maine, 2017
ISBN 978-1-941830-46-8
Paperback, $16.95, 162 pages.
Purchase from Amazon

Reviewed by Patti Gibbons originally for Amazon
Accomplished author, poet, and editor Carol Smallwood’s latest offering, Interweavings: Creative   Shanti Arts Publishing, 2017, is a collection of essays that offers readers a chance to view select moments of Smallwood’s life where she pauses, as a woman and as a writer, to reflect, analyze, and contemplate the interconnectedness of her earlier self, life’s universal moments, and the outlook that comes with the passage of time. Smallwood’s perspective brings strength ingrained in her as a member of her generation’s feminist movement, a theme that supports the overarching tone of the collection of essays.

Smallwood’s assembly of over forty essays are organized into seven thematic chapters, and work on the individual essay level, as groups of essays, and finally as a whole collection. Looking at the mundane, such as visits to the post office or to the library, Smallwood works in an accessible realm, one which readers of all backgrounds can relate to, but her voice filters her experiences through her vantage point, namely as a woman born in a pivotal generation, and through it rings a perspective that prompts readers to go beyond an interpretation of her stories as descriptive pieces, to a body of work that provides a faceted look at the small moments of life that communicates deeper meanings and speaks to experiences Smallwood narrates from her reflections across her lifetime. Smallwood shares her private thoughts in clear and uncensored terms, not for shock value, but as a reflective simplicity that has come clearer into view as she benefits from the long view of maturity.

Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction is a peek into a writer’s sketchbook, a collection of ponderings and meditations when the author encounters silently powerful moments in her everyday life, and rubs and massages them to tease out the emotional underpinnings and delineates how each speaks not only to the conversation at hand, but to deeper dialogues when examined in light of a lifetime of living and experience. The perspective presented in the individual essays is perhaps clarified by the writing process, and Smallwood, as an author skilled in many genres, is able to share feelings, sentiments, and wisdom with an apparent simplicity and economy of words, due in large part to her mastery as a writer. Smallwood’s Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction shows universal expressions of feeling.

Readers of all backgrounds could easily connect with the themes, and readers seeking to examine American life and the life of twentieth century women, in particular, would delight in the insight Smallwood provides, and the honest reflections she shares. Smallwood’s essays leak with quiet sentiment and encourage readers to approach her prose intuitively. Honest and uncoated, Smallwood evenhandedly leads readers through a series of richly described vignettes that are relatable and prompt readers to interject themselves into the circumstances she writes about, to experience situations first-handedly themselves, as well as on behalf of the author.

As Dr. William Brevda, Professor of English at Central Michigan University, aptly points out in the foreword, “What Smallwood has written is literature. It has staying power.” Through her descriptive yet careful voice, Smallwood candidly captures how she experiences daily life through the medium of language in a profound manner that reaches the level of lasting art.  

Patti Gibbons works at the University of Chicago Library in the Special Collections Research Center. 


 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically ( ). This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

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