Enter Shadowbox’s site and you’ll see a shadowbox filled will several objects. Clicking on the image of the flowers will bring up this issue’s featured writing. It brings up a spice rack, each bottle containing a spice of life, if you will. Dedicated entirely to all forms of creative nonfiction, Shadowbox presents a collection worth reading. Some pieces are in the traditional essay form, while others stray quite a bit, opening up new ways to see creative nonfiction.
Claudia Serea’s “The White Ear” is intriguing in the way that she calls the telephone a white ear. Not knowing this at the beginning, it is quite intriguing from the first few lines:
The white ear was large and a bit hairy. It sat on the table between the two red armchairs in the red-carpeted hallway, listening to everything we said. The cartilage stretched and twitched to catch every word in the house. At night, it listened to our breathing.
But once I found out the ear was a phone, I wasn’t any less intrigued. The language and sounds in this (“click-click-click-whirr”) make it a compelling piece.
Bradley P. Efford’s piece “Arriving” is a collection of vignettes, each at the time of a birth. Starting with the birth of Efford’s father (actually it starts with the birth of his father’s older brother) the pieces trace forward to the birth of his father’s grandchild, Efford’s niece. Packed with vivid details and endearing moments, it is a family history born out of the moments of “arriving.”
Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch present a selection from Conversations over Stolen Food. They spent thirty days recording conversations in areas in and around New York City. The one presented here takes place at a Union Square health-food store.
In “Handiwork,” Hilary Schaper reflects on her relationship with her father. She admits that growing up, she felt like the bonsai trees that her father pruned, stunting her growth and turning her inside herself, unsure and unconfident. But later in life after more thought, she realizes that perhaps she and her father are not so different when it comes to art:
For my father, I think bonsais functioned as a kind of way station, an intermediate step to his immersion in making art . . . when he retired. . . . Perhaps this art allowed my father the freedom to express himself with confidence at a time when he could not yet navigate the open sea of creativity—imagining, spawning, and realizing an artistic project.
If the bonsais gave him the opportunity to express his own aesthetic reality, then my father and I are aligned in that way. We both try to give voice to our unformed thoughts, to create something of beauty and meaning. I shape words; he, trees.
Many of the pieces here I loved, several of them didn’t do much for me, but all of them were different. So, in a way, there’s something here for everyone.