This Is What It Smells Like

This Is What It Smells Like

by Cathy Adams


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"My mother gave birth to me because she wanted someone to fix her a sandwich."

From the first sentence you know that Valentine's life is different. At age twenty-four Valentine has never met her father, Ray. Now he asks to return to her North Carolina home so that he can meet her and die in peace. When he shows up with the step-son no one knew existed and his pet gecko, Val wants nothing to do with either of them, but Tess, her drug-addicted mother, is ready to bring everyone together in one big dysfunctional family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781614690108
Publisher: New Libri Press
Publication date: 06/01/2012
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

Cathy Adams’ short stories and essays have been published in:

Utne, The Philosophical Mother, Ghoti Magazine, Heliotrope, and WNCWoman, among others.

Her writing awards include the Mona Schreiber Award for Fiction, a National League of Pen Women’s Prize, and a National Public Radio News Director’s award. Her work has been aired on Georgia Peachstate and Isothermal Public Radio networks.

Cathy is a wine and chocolate connoisseur and has dabbled in designing her own clothes.

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This Is What It Smells Like 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I’ve just finished reading This is What it Smells Like and I was struck by the imagery, balance, and tone of the piece. I’ve never been to Ashville, NC but Cathy Adams’ description of the town’s buildings, residents, and atmosphere made me believe I had. For example, the home Val shares with her mother, Tess, has paint peeling from the window frames, hardwood floors with the varnish worn away, and a rust stain in the small bathroom sink. None of this was written in the novel, but I could see it. I knew that house. The author approaches the low and dejected with unexpected humor. For every human moment ordinarily defined by its inherent despondency, the author tilts it on end, turns it to the light, and finds the glint of humor buried and hiding there. This is no trick or gimmick. This is poignancy. This is how Adams uniquely interprets her world. And the inverse is also true: for every witty moment a lesser author would elevate and then abandon, delighting in the ease with which he made us laugh, Adams snatches it back and shows us the heartbreaking underbelly. From this author I’ve learned balance: nothing is entirely funny or entirely sad. There is nobility in her characters. They are grounded in their lives with unapologetic dignity. They are not beautiful people, nor do they bother hiding their ugly truths. This degree of authenticity is rare and brings a refreshing level of realism to current literature. It nurtures an atmosphere of trust and empathy, a safe place for the reader to reside in.