Letters

Letters 02-08-2016

Less Ageism, Please The January 4 issue of this publication proved to me that there are some sensible voices of reason in our community regarding all things “inter-generational.” I offer a word of thanks to Elizabeth Myers. I too have worked hard for what I’ve earned throughout my years in the various positions I’ve held. While I too cannot speak for each millennial, brash generalizations about a lack of work ethic don’t sit well with me...Joe Connolly, Traverse City

Now That’s an Escalation I just read the letter from Greg and his defense of the AR15. The letter started with great information but then out of nowhere his opinion went off the rails. “The government wants total gun control and then confiscation; then the elimination of all Constitutional rights.” Wait... what?! To quote the great Ron Burgundy, “Well, that escalated quickly!”

Healthy Eating and Exercise for Children Healthy foods and exercise are important for children of all ages. It is important for children because it empowers them to do their best at school and be able to do their homework and study...

Mascots and Harsh Native American Truths The letter from the Choctaw lady deserves an answer. I have had a gutful of the whining about the fate of the American Indian. The American Indians were the losers in an imperial expansion; as such, they have, overall, fared much better than a lot of such losers throughout history. Everything the lady complains about in the way of what was done by the nasty, evil Whites was being done by Indians to other Indians long before Europeans arrived...

Snyder Must Go I believe it’s time. It’s time for Governor Snyder to go. The FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the EPA Criminal Investigation Division are now investigating the Flint water crisis that poisoned thousands of people. Governor Snyder signed the legislation that established the Emergency Manager law. Since its inception it has proven to be a dismal failure...

Erosion of Public Trust Let’s look at how we’ve been experiencing global warming. Between 1979 and 2013, increases in temperature and wind speeds along with more rain-free days have combined to stretch fire seasons worldwide by 20 percent. In the U.S., the fire seasons are 78 days longer than in the 1970s...

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

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.


 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 

 

 
 
 
Close
Close
Close