Small, Irrelevant Matters

Fiction - General
100 Pages
Reviewed on 09/20/2015
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite

The title of Christopher Lee Johnson’s collection of short prose perfectly sums up the theme of Small, Irrelevant Matters. I found myself re-reading more than one of the stories as I related to the underlying meanings that are not so small nor irrelevant. The Flea Market is a nostalgic glimpse into a childhood memory, while How to Make an H is haunting in its very, very real circumstances of illiteracy in the world. As a veteran school teacher, I have met my share of Vincents. Vincent may not be able to read, but his hidden talents far exceed this particular skill and probably will never be discovered.

Center of the Room and This is Mine are both reflective of coming of age experiences (being the odd man out, first love, trust) that the majority of young adults face as they climb toward adulthood. I find it fitting to conclude this collection of short stories with Cowcatcher, a glimpse into the lonely life of Calvin, the town alcoholic. Calvin doesn’t stray far from a routine of drink in his rather public display of grief. He is a quiet man, but his presence screams of the depression that settles upon so many individuals who are forced to deal with unexpected life tragedies.

I really enjoyed Small, Irrelevant Matters mainly for its simplicity in both format and theme. The characters (all of which are natives of rural, small-town Appalachia) are drawn from authentic people, making them very familiar and reader-friendly. This is a beautiful collection of nostalgia.

Jessyca Garcia

In Small, Irrelevant Matters, author Christopher Lee Johnson shares his fondness for rock music and odd situations through nine short stories. The stories all take place in the countryside of Virginia. Each story has its own set of characters, is unique, and has a point. What that point is may vary from reader to reader. Some stories you may have to read more than once to make sure that you understand it. For me it was the story “How to Make an H”. I am still not sure if I understand that story completely. My personal favorite story was “The Flea Market”. The story is about two brothers who go to the flea market to sell stuff with their father. This story made me remember the moment when I realized my own father was not perfect. Johnson captured a life’s moment perfectly in this story. One other story that left me speechless was “Cowcatcher”. This story follows the town drunk. The story tells you how he became that way and it also has a surprising ending.

I like that most of Johnson’s stories contain hints of rock music. It helps when you have good background music when you are reading a story. It makes it feel real. If you like short stories that make you think, then Small, Irrelevant Matters is the book for you. Johnson has a gift for making readers ponder about what they just read. These are the types of stories that have different meanings for different people. I hope to read more of Johnson’s work in the future.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Small, Irrelevant Matters by Christopher Lee Johnson is a collection of nine short stories, stories that tell of real life. The stories are just moments in time, from all walks of life. Teenagers, dads, store workers, soldiers, just normal people going about their everyday lives. All it takes is one chance word spoken in the right place, one gesture, or a remark out of turn to change the lives of the people concerned. A simple car ride, a visit to a flea market, a boy who doesn’t know how to make an H, all of these can lead to someone taking a completely different path in life than the one they thought they were on. Words that are spoken can never be unspoken; you may forget what you said, you may brush it off as inconsequential, but someone else will never forget.

Small, Irrelevant Matters by Christopher Lee Johnson was rather profound. What seem to be small and irrelevant matters really aren’t, and the short stories in this book go to show that everything we do and everything we say has an effect, no matter how irrelevant we think it is. Each story has a meaning and it all comes down to interpretation. Each story is just a moment in life, a moment in time captured forever. These stories are definitely written in a way that makes you stop and think about moments in your own life. The individual characters in each story are brought to life very quickly in a way that made me feel as though I knew them, although it could just have been that I was identifying them with somebody from my own life. This book will make you do that; reflect back to things that have happened to you or to someone you know. I enjoyed the read; a very well written book that clearly shows a lot of thought and hard work.