Contemporary American Women
by Carol Smallwood & Cynthia Brackett-Vincent

All That Matters Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-984-25943-4.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 04/26/2010

Anthologies/Collections; Nonfiction: Memoir

Here is a super collection of stories women tell about themselves. Once we have had a certain amount of life experience, we can look back with perspective and laugh, cry and realize that we have gained from our process. The 35 women who have contributed to Contemporary American Women are all published authors, many of whom are poets and/or librarians. The overall quality of the writing makes it difficult to choose a favorite story within each section. Here is a sampling.

From the section, Dealing with our Physical Selves, here is an excerpt from "A Member of the Wedding." "I didn't tell many people I was getting a cochlear implant...I had been suddenly thrust from the detached void of silence into miracle worker scientific technology and felt part cyborg, part sex kitten..." Other stories in this section deal with body challenges.

The second section, Meeting our Emotional Needs, deals with motherhood and career, adopting animals, alcoholism, drug abuse, attitudes about weight loss and more. They offer thoughts to ponder and examples of courage. The Family We Have contains stories of aging parents, children, family abuse, death and sisters. From "The Scent of Life": "...How could I mind knowing my body will nurture life to come? That such an eventuality might be the most honorable, long-reaching contribution I'll ever make."

Following those sections are The Families That We Create, Our Career Choices, Empowering Ourselves, and Reconnecting. In "The Needle in the Haystack," Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, one of the few writers with over 60 years of life experience, writes of finding her true love when both are in their 40's. So many more memorable tales, so well written. Read this and you will see yourself. Read this and you will empathize with so many. Read this and be inspired. The editors deserve kudos for having recruited and chosen so well.

Carol Smallwood, award winning author has written 19 books. Writing and Publishing: the Librarian's Handbook is due out soon.

Cynthia Brackett-Vincent has been the publisher/editor of Aurorean poetry journal since 1995. She has published over 100 poems and nonfiction.

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