Poetry. Fiction. As a visual artist, Fred Peretz Cohn creates works assembled out of natural materials harvested from the woods and fields around his home, so it should come as no surprise that his debut novel in verse, ALL THE SMALL THINGS, is likewise an assemblage, a narrative constructed out of many bits of life: of fragments of school journals, refrigerator magnets, and sticky notes written in purple ink, of photos of heroes tacked on kitchen walls or of a blue-eyed girl / with pigtails and a bursting smile taped to a school bus windshield. Here the small things he reports are moments in the lives of children on the cusp of adolescence, told over the course of a single school year in their working class community, discovering themselves and their world--and there is, of course, nothing small or insignificant about their lives. The story is told in their words, and they are guided in this process by a gifted and dedicated teacher, who in helping them to find their voices, and to observe all the little details of their lives, enables them to discover who and how to be. Indeed, the entire book is a celebration of the power of language to create worlds and enable community (and it's no accident that Cohn is also a communication professional). The central character, Martin, is inspired and enriched by his hard-working widowed mother's love of reading--The really good stuff, she says / is in poetry and people. This lovely hybrid book is full of the really good stuff, of simple but stirring poetry about memorable people--like all life, made up of small things.
About the Author
Fred Peretz Cohn is a writer and visual artist. Born and raised in New Jersey, he graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in French, received a masters in French Studies from New York University, and spent several years working and studying in Paris. He lived in New York City for twenty years before moving to Ithaca, where he was a classroom teacher in nearby Schuyler County. Currently, he resides in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and their two children. ALL THE SMALL THINGS (Broadstone Books, 2021) is his first novel.