NORTH CAROLINA L I T E R A R Y RE V I E W
2021 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize
i m e S
Shallow by Eve Odom
with art by Peter Butler
EVE ODOM lives in Asheville with her husband and son. She received her MA degree from UNC Greensboro and now writes nonfiction about her family and personal life. This is her first publication. Final judge Michael Parker gave honorable mention to “Semi Shallow,” remarking that the essay’s humor “comes from its honesty and its gentle ribbing of our most earnest altruistic impulses” and that it “explores our impulses to be ‘good people’ with intelligence and the slightest edge of irony.”
Maybe I am a bit shallow. Probably. I mean, not any more than the next person. Truly, it isn’t something that I normally think about myself. Does anyone really sit around thinking, Well, I am pretty shallow. This whole self-dive all started when I was on Facebook one day and someone asked, “What do you want to do before you die?”
And as I sat and reflected about what I wanted to do before I die, the only thing I could think of was this: I want to see a semi-truck lose its brakes and hit one of those runaway sand ramps. The answers below the question seemed thoughtful and heartfelt. Someone said they wanted to help a child in need. Others talked about doing righteous things like saving a life. And as I sat and reflected about what I wanted to do before I die, the only thing I could think of was this: I want to see a semi-truck lose its brakes and hit one of those runaway sand ramps. The smell of burning brakes catches your attention first, like hair on fire. Then you see a truck trying not to plow over the surrounding cars as it loosely and dangerously accelerates down a mountain, unable to stop. Eighteen wheels scorching and gyrating as the driver frantically tries to save himself from his foreseeable fate, until a shining light burns bright on his escape. A sandpit patiently awaits to take all that dangerous momentum and stop this imminent catastrophe in its tracks. Without anyone getting hurt, of course. I really want to see that.
PETER BUTLER earned his BFA from UNC Chapel Hill in 1976 and has a studio in Clinton, NC. His work can be seen in private and public collections throughout the country, including the Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham and City Art Gallery in Greenville.