A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt

Fiction - Literary
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 01/07/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I've had four biographical works published, using the names Chris, Christine and C V Williams (at the discretion of the publishers). My first was a study of the novelist Christina Stead, my second a series of interviews with men about their fathers, and then a book titled 'Green Power' about Australian environmentalists. My work has been published in Australia, England and India.
As Director of Sydney School of Arts & Humanities, I'm involved in publishing the work of emerging writers. I also convene a series of meet up groups in creative fiction and non-fiction. I have a special interest in memoir, relationships and identity in life-writing, having researched the life of the Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, for a Doctorate of Creative Arts (DCA) from the University of Technology, Sydney. I also hold a Master of Arts (MA) from the University of Sydney.

My research work was acknowledged with a NSW History Fellowship. I continue to publish short stories in the academic and mainstream press, as well as recently publishing a book of short stories titled 'A Grain of Truth A Pinch of Salt', under the author name C V Williams.

I love writing and encourage others to write through the memoir and creative writing groups I organise in Sydney through Sydney School of Arts & Humanities & the Sydney Writers Circle Meetup.

Currently working on a novel set in India, I'm also editing several books for sale on Sydney School of Arts & Humanities website www.ssoa.com.au/ & on Amazon Books.
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Neil A White for Readers' Favorite

From Australian author C.V. Williams comes an enchanting eclectic collection of short stories titled A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt. This compilation brings together tales of familial struggles, love, protection, exploration, health, and aging. And, under her sure hand, each theme is daubed in her poetic prose, creating a rich tableau that is deep with meaning. I found the stand-out selection to be "Sydney Syd," the story of an elderly couple brought together by chance, both having lost a spouse through illness, but rediscovering a new zest for life, albeit fleeting, in their companionship. Their brief time together poignantly reflects the pain we knowingly put ourselves through for those few treasured moments of joy.

An over-arching theme of her lyrical tales is the use of symbolism and imagery that melds together Buddhist/Hindu mysticism with the one-with-the-earth beliefs of Australia’s indigenous peoples. Her use of nature’s beauty as a means of coming to terms with life’s many twists and turns is both inspired and inspiring. For example, from the final pages of “No Title,” which closes out her work, comes: “Red earth, brown soil, black mud, silver quartz rock, buff sandstone, cream-coloured sand. Climbing, running, leaping. Scouring for plants, painting story, cutting skin to let the red sap spurt.” In A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt, Ms. Williams - best known for her biographical works - makes an impressive leap with her first foray into the fictional world. One can only hope there is more to come from this talented writer.

Charles Remington

A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt is an apt title for this volume of short stories from Australian author C.V. Williams. There are twenty tales in all, of varying lengths, and one would suppose that the grain of truth must lie with the accounts of her travels while the pinch of salt could refer to the more whimsical pieces of imagination. The collection opens with ‘Whose Nose Was This,’ which deals with the removal of a cancerous growth, at the same time linking this with thoughts of the elephant-headed Indian god Ganesh. This is followed by ‘Trust’, a luminous tale of childhood so beautifully described that I could feel the sand between my toes and the Australian sun on my back while reading it.

The tales go on to cover such subjects as inheritance and family feuds, and musings on love and shells and pearls, along with an odd tale which starts in a cinema and ends in a rather unexpected way. There are several stories of travels and encounters, some real, some imagined, some possibly a little of both; encounters of the sexual kind and encounters of the spiritual kind. ‘A Green Thumb and A Lotus Hand,’ set in a lakeside Indian temple, is another tale that has you feeling the heat of the Indian day and smelling the wood smoke of the lunchtime fires; while ‘A Nonconformist Spirit Guide’ will have you walking the streets of London on a visit to one of the homes of the Bloomsbury Group.

The stories continue on diverse, intriguing and sometimes unexpected subjects, but all sharing a fine penmanship that will carry you away and enthrall you in the author’s memories and imagination. C.V. Williams demonstrates her obvious ability with the short story format. Her narratives engage you with a light touch while her descriptions, using only a few soft brush strokes, nevertheless paint vivid pictures. A fine collection of stories from the pen of an accomplished author, which I thoroughly enjoyed and do not hesitate to recommend.

Deborah Lloyd

A lovely collection of poignant short stories comprises A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt, written by CV Williams. The author’s brief biography at the end of the book notes that she is Australian, with an interest in Indian culture. The stories reflect this information, as many stories take place in Australia, India, and even London. Each one is unique and rich in meaning. Frequently there are spiritual meanings embedded in Indian religious beliefs. Ms. Williams explores many issues of life, including love, faith, relationships, diseases and eventual death. One great example of this is the story entitled Sydney Syd. After caring for his wife who died as a result of Parkinson’s Disease, Syd meets Annie, who had cared for her husband who died from the same disease. As Syd aged and approached his death, the story contained some surprising, heartwarming and heartrending moments.

Each story in A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt is practically a short novella, as the author is able to create a scene, develop several characters and design an intriguing plot quickly and smoothly. She also has selected beautiful photographs for the beginning and ending of each story, highlighting scenes from the natural world in her well-crafted works. The writing skills of author CV Williams are truly impressive in A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt. Each story is compelling and thought-provoking. There is a universality interwoven in each one as the main points are relevant to the human condition, present in every culture and nation in the world. A gem in the short story genre.

Natasha Jackson

C.V. Williams has put together a collection of vignettes in A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt that take the reader on a journey across the globe, covering everything from a cosmetic surgery and the lasting impact of changing one’s appearance to a heartfelt tale of a man called Gerald who’d done time for a crime that he did not commit. Though short, the tales are compelling and complete, each with a beginning, middle and end so you don’t feel as though you have to finish the entire book to gain an understanding of the lessons contained within each story. Each voice is unique, but somehow by the end, you feel as though one single person has simply shared snippets of their life with various strangers around the world.

A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt has a Forrest Gump feel about it in the way the stories are simply told. The complexity lies in the story as it was lived, but doesn’t require a flowery retelling for the sake of art. C.V. Williams has done something very few authors have even attempted in this day and age, making vignettes a great method of storytelling. This is a different kind of book, one that I was wary of reading, but three or four pages into the first story, I found myself eager to know more. Some of the stories were told quite formally, my guess is due to a language difference, but once the storyteller’s voice took over, it just became a fact of the story rather than a hindrance.

Marta Tandori

Insight and wisdom are oftentimes gleaned through a grain of truth or a pinch of salt, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the collection of short stories by C.V. Williams aptly called A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt. Williams gives us a wide variety of short literary stories that exemplify tales of everyday life – Western life with all its foibles and follies, rationalized with an Eastern perspective. Each story is stark in its honesty, conveying emotional friction, pain, fright and a host of other feelings that simmer below the surface. Whose Nose Was This? introduces readers to Cassie, who has skin cancer on the left side of her nose and has to undergo surgery to remove the cancer; A Footnote on Footlights, where an unexpected encounter in a movie theater has grave repercussions for a couple; Balmy Bali, where stranger Gerry recounts to Susie his horrific experiences in a Bali jail, and shares with her his discovery that the difference between heaven and hell is one’s perception of the two; and Trust, which shows us the devastating impact of a love not reciprocated.

A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt gives us exactly that with each story. Vulnerabilities are exposed, problems are revealed, and a need for validation, for love and acceptance is brought to the forefront – and then tempered by an Eastern holistic perspective. Some of the stories are utterly beautiful in their prose, with emotions simmering both above and below the surface. Each story is a different offering and each gives the reader something different to take away from it. A Grain of Truth a Pinch of Salt is more than just a collection of short stories. It’s also a spiritual journey of the soul and certainly one worth taking.