This is a reflection on the amusements and anxieties of growing older.""Small Comforts"" is a work of creative nonfiction that quietly probes the mysteries of an ordinary life when reviewed at middle age. Essayist Jeff Hammond, a midcareer academic who examines a variety of lifelong obsessions, frustrates any expectation that life's fogs dissipate as we age. At stake here is the need for those of us who have reached a ""certain age"" to examine who we have become with courage, honesty, and humor.Beneath the discoveries of a sometimes bewildered narrator lurks that strange sense of liberation that can brighten the process of getting older. Hammond's diverse musings on time and its effects will prompt an oddly calming discovery that many problems usually identified as ""midlife"" issues have actually been with us since childhood.In the narrator's seriocomic self-effacement, ""Small Comforts"" embodies midlife retrospection with humor and tender nostalgia, certain to appeal to the ever-growing middle-aged population.
Jeffrey Hammond, George B. and Willma Reeves Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts, teaches English and American literature, biblical and classical literature, and nonfiction writing. He has published three books in his primary field of early American literature, including The American Puritan Elegy: A Literary and Cultural Study (Cambridge University Press, 2000). His creative nonfiction, which has won a Pushcart Prize and Shenandoah's Carter Prize for Essay, has appeared in Antioch Review, Missouri Review, Massachusetts Review, Southern Review, Southern Humanities Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Sport Literate, Crab Orchard Review, ISLE, Salmagundi, River Teeth, Fourth Genre, and American Scholar