Essays at Middle Age
The Kent State University Press
A reflection on the amusements and anxieties of growing older
“With its brutal honesty, self-deprecating humor, and hard-earned insights, Jeffrey Hammond’s Small Comforts is a stunning personal journey that begins with childhood dreams and adolescent fantasies and culminates in career anxieties and the inevitable midlife crisis. Small Comforts is a portrait of the artist who is no longer a young man and now must find the courage to face what he has created and what he has failed to create in the smithy of his soul." —Richard “Pete” Peterson
Small Comforts 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 look at 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 and is certain to appeal to the ever-growing middle-aged population.