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Cole Smithey Is Profound and Affecting in “A Balm for America’s Wounds”

In response to Cole Smithey’s 672‑word review of Nebraska on

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Cole Smithey’s Twitter avatar is an unashamed “selfie,” the man himself staring piercingly into the soul of whosever screen he finds himself on. Indeed, these are the perspicacious eyes of an author who rarely misses a thing worth mentioning, and his “Nebraska: A Balm for America’s Wounds” shows him very near the top of his game.

A Balm for America’s Wounds is sharp as a tack—but not tacky in the slightest. The work examines the American dream and comes up not finding it lacking, but finding the American dream means something very different than it seems.

The work begins with the obligatory history lesson, but shortly thereafter dives into the central conceit—who wins in a war between “a darker economic crisis” than the Depression (in more ways than one), and “the elusive new value that America seeks?”

Smithey’s piece answers the question through a study in contrasts that lasts through A Balm for America’s Wounds’s profound ending. Readers are exposed to two Americas, and the author carefully contrasts optimism with an antagonist far more insidious than pessimism: the combination of “jealousy, greed, and betrayal.”

There’s something deeply affecting about Smithey’s work, and readers will likely exit the review feeling as though there’s something very real at stake.  A Balm for America’s Wounds is a wonderful piece that readers will notice this Nebraska season.    

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