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By Carol Smallwood
The Head & The Hand Press
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
Although Carol Smallwood's chapbook A Ceremony works just fine as a standalone piece of literature, it unfortunately suffers from the same problem any narrative fiction project suffers from when published in chapbook form; there simply isn't enough there to make for an engaging reading experience, and in fact I'm having a hard time today even coming up with enough to say about it to fill a short review. In reality an excerpt from the larger 2010 novel Lily's Odyssey, this turns out to be one of the main problems, that it feels like we're taking an out-of-context glimpse at a larger story; a look at the moment of death for a family patriarch and the preparations for the coming funeral, the writing itself isn't bad at all, but the whole thing ends long before we've had a chance to learn much about the characters or grow to care about what happens to them. A fine example of the specific goal the publisher was going for -- this is part of a series of 28-page booklets that are literally sold out of a vending machine at a coffeehouse in Philadelphia -- it nonetheless comes up lacking as a piece of literature, and it should be kept in mind when deciding whether to purchase a copy yourself.
Out of 10: 7.0
Read even more about A Ceremony: Official site