Jack C. Buck’s Deer Michigan is a wide-ranging flash fiction collection that while set in very American locales like Michigan and Colorado, speaks to a much more universal set of human experiences. The sixty-three tales that comprise the anthology range from the literal to the fanciful, from the nostalgic to the self-punishing – sometimes moving from one to another within the same story. They can be little snippets of life, something that in real time might be a mere moment, or they can be odes to entire lifetimes.
For example, Grand Rapids, Michigan evokes a particular American era before computers and global terrorism, when children were wholly absorbed with the important business of being children. Even if Grand Rapids was never your town and you don’t know of a life without cell phones, Buck makes you feel the sticky heat of summers in the Mid-West and ache for the wild freedom of having so much life stretching out in front of you. Conversely, Conversations in an Idle Car is deeply intimate and closes in around you. It is about that moment in a relationship when it hits you, that you know for sure it’s over. Almost without saying a single word.
Buck’s talent as a writer lies in describing any given sliver of life so well and with such detail that one can’t help but be there, wherever there is. But he also somehow manages to encourage your own memories and imaginings of times real or dreamt of. There is a poetic rhythm to many of his stories, a slow to and fro that compels the reader to witness and to feel and to become a part of Deer Michigan.