Emerging from deep in America’s hinterland, Michael Credico’s flash fiction portrays an absurdist, exaggerated, and bizarre vision of the Midwest known as the heartland. The stories are clipped views into a land filled with slippery confusion and chaos, mythical creatures, zombies, comic violence, shapeshifters, and startling quantities of fish. The characters of Heartland Calamitous are trying to sort out where, who, and what they are and how to fit into their communities and families.
Writers like Lydia Davis and Amy Hempel have made their careers on the fine-tuned art of flash fiction, but you won’t find anything like their delicate aphorisms in these pages. Like the Coen brothers by way of Samuel Beckett with a zombie or two thrown in for good measure, Michael Credico’s clipped style and deadpan humor mimics and complicates the “Midwestern nice” that flyover country is infamous for, blazing new trails all his own.
—Chicago Review of Books
In his compelling collection of stories—most only a few pages long—Michael Credico marshals bold, creative images to depict a grim Midwest dominated by slaughterhouses and fast food restaurants. . . . Echoing the work of Franz Kafka and Joseph Heller, the intense, slippery images animating these powerful stories bring to life alienated characters and are challenging and surprising at every turn.
Credico’s sentences bloom out of one another like cherry trees that flower in winter. This book slants toward life in a way that feels real.
—Rita Bullwinkel, author of Belly Up
Chiseled and coiled like a hungry serpent with a wicked sense of humor, Michael Credico’s stories lure you in with terrific sentences and just when you expect to be crushed, embrace you with an unexpectedly tender heart. Denis Johnson meets Donald Barthelme at a dive where Gordon Lish tends bar and Amy Hempel rules the jukebox. Don’t believe me, believe Credico. Read this book.
—Imad Rahman, author of I Dream of Microwaves
In this warped, deliciously brutal debut collection, Michael Credico spins variations on a common Midwestern malady: feeling stuck and looking for a way out. His oddly alienated characters find themselves restrained again and again—choked by a too-tight necktie, caught in a glue trap, running a directionless road—trapped, like Cleveland’s own Howard the Duck, in a world they never made.
—David Giffels, author of Furnishing Eternity