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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.