Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Michael Delp seeks answers though...
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Michael Delp seeks answers though short stories

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - March 15th, 2010
Michael Delp Seeks Answers Through Short Stories
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
As If We Were Prey
By Michael Delp
Wayne State University Press
The magic thing about writers is that we get to watch the way they think. They leave a trail of pebbles behind them, a body of work that, with good writers, expands, then flattens into a wide vista of explored ideas.
Michael Delp, teacher of creative writing at Interlochen Arts Academy and writer of many books of poetry and fiction, including: Over the Graves of Horses, Under the Influence of Water and more, is one of these good writers. With, As if We Were Prey, his new book of Michigan-based short stories from Wayne State University Press, he takes old and new themes and drives them and us to new places.
“Commandos” is the disturbing story of a boy bullied by a cruel young neighbor. The boy can see into the bully’s second story bedroom—with binoculars. He takes stock of the Nazi paraphernalia; the photo of Adolph Hitler. The boy and a friend plan to humiliate their torturer, blindside him into tripping over a wire stretched between trees. When this fails, and his attempt at revenge only deepens his misery, he is left to watch–almost without emotion – until the bully’s life plays out at the end of a rope.
In the story, the boy’s grown self looks back from a different place and sees that the boy he was, never had a chance; that triumph wasn’t waiting in the wings. The older man knows that life doesn’t play out according to a self-written script; that the bully had “. . . no real dad to come down to pick him up. No friends. I’m thinking about his vacant eyes, the smoke of Camel straights rising up out of his sneer, one of his engineer’s boots propped up against the wall—waiting like a bird of prey.”
This isn’t Psych-101 stuff. This is growth, and understanding from a far place of years. The adult man sees not only the bully, but the boy he, himself, once was; a boy watching out the window, still trying to understand long after the bully is dead. Raw emotion is here, but something, too, of a different sort.

PAST AND PRESENT
We find the same qualities in “We are Living in the Future,” another past and present story entwined into a narrative teaching: ‘you can’t go home again.’ In this story a man mourns the loss of more than one life. There is no recapturing the boy he once was, nor should he want to. The friend he goes to visit, an old football player from his glory days in high school, now “looks like a woodchuck. His gut hangs over his belt, and I could see different parts of his underwear poking out along the waistline of his pants.” Under the decrepitude, the alcoholism, the loss of respect, adolescent stupidity, right down to a final degradation, the old football player still has one thing the man envies. One thing that will probably keep him tied to the past for the rest of his life.
Lessons learned in Delp’s work are never the ones we suspect we’re learning.
Of all these fine stories, I have two favorites. First there is “Mystery Park,” for the sheer pleasure of getting drunk and setting free a bear caged in one of those awful Michigan zoos.
The second favorite is “Traveling Einstein.” This is the story of Art, a man who travels Michigan, an itinerant teacher, getting paid by the citizenry to answer questions. He stands by his truck and defies the crowd he gathers to ask him anything. Anything at all. He knows all the answers. “Who is the only president buried in Washington, D.C.?” he’s asked. He’s got the answer. “What was the Great Gatsby’s first name?” He knows that too. But confronted with his own brain, where answers come from, he has no answer. After pulling an answer seemingly from so deep it frightened him, Art ...“stopped the session and sat in his truck until the crowd went away. He watched them trailing off in the dust and waited for what seemed like hours for his heart to slow down, remembering that the answer had risen from deep in his limbic system, moving up through the blood and tissue of his brain like a bubble rising in maple syrup.”

GETTING FREE
Art knows they’re waiting—those deep bubbles—until the day there won’t be a bubble left, and he’ll be asked the kind of question he can’t come close to answering. When this does happen, he retires—not with a brain-blowing explosion of knowing too much, but with a whimper. A woman teaches him the biggest question of all. The question doesn’t come from a book, but from deep in the human heart. This question has, a single, unknowable answer, that sets him free.
Other reviewers have pointed to the sense of melancholy in Delp’s stories, and it’s there, but more important are the truths that spring from the melancholy. These are truths a grown man has to deal with eventually: who he was and who he’s become. The stories here are right out there, in your face. Delp is shooting for deeper things, beyond simple emotion and experience, all the way to that inner core of knowledge we know is there but, like Art the answer man, are afraid to face. Maybe he’s telling us we’re all prey to begin with but, like the caged bear, there’s still hope of smelling freedom.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s third book in the Emily Kincaid mystery series, Dead Sleeping Shaman, will be in bookstores in May.


 
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