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. Environmental destruction, aging, ailing parents, apathy, and depression weigh on the residents of the heartland, and they can’t help but fall under the delusion that if they could just be somewhere or someone or something else, everything would be better. This is a leftover land, dazed and dizzy, where bodies melt into Ziplock bags and making do becomes a lifestyle.
The stories of Heartland Calamitous, often only two or three pages long, reveal a dismal state in which longing slips into passive acceptance, speaking to the particular Midwestern feeling of being stuck. They slip from humor to grief to the grotesque, forming a picture of an all-to-close dystopian quagmire. With this collection, Credico spins a new American fable, a modern-day mythology of the absurd and deformed born of a non-place between destinations.