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Wayne State University Press

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As If We Were Prey

Stories by Michael Delp

Award Winner

Fiction, Michigan

Made in Michigan Writers Series

Published: March 2010
ISBN: 9780814334775
Pages: 120 Size: 5x8
Published: March 2010
ISBN: 9780814335321

The writing is sharp and alluring.

— Grand Rapids Living

In As If We Were Prey Michael Delp presents working-class male characters who are tried, tested, and pushed to their limits. Struggling with the demons of childhood and the indignities of adult life, they work dead-end jobs, keep the peace within their families, and attempt to assert themselves against authority whenever they can. While Delp’s characters are fathers and sons, students and teachers, they all share a sense of alienation and melancholy that propels them to antics and ill-conceived plans. Although they hope that their rash actions will prove their independence, they generally only reveal their essential vulnerability.

Set mostly in small-town northern Michigan, Delp follows boys and full-grown men who know how to fight, fish, and hunt, but struggle to use those skills to overcome the emptiness and dysfunction of their day-to-day lives. A boy takes revenge on the neighborhood bully and watches his downfall with unexpected emotion, a man visits a tourist attraction with a caged bear and empathizes with the creature, a teacher quits his job and hits the road as a one-man trivia quiz show, a father shares his childhood stories of defeat with his young daughter and inspires her to settle a score, two men catch a giant bass and keep it in the bathtub all winter to fatten it to prize-winning size, and a Vietnam vet and shop teacher switches into combat mode to teach his students a chilling lesson.

The stories in As If We Were Prey are both humorous and haunting, fast-paced and tender. Fans of Delp’s writing as well as all readers of fiction will enjoy these stories of men pushing the limits of their lives.

Michael Delp is a writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction whose works have appeared in numerous national publications. He is the author of Over the Graves of Horses (Wayne State University Press, 1989), Under the Influence of Water (Wayne State University Press, 1992), The Coast of Nowhere (Wayne State University Press, 1997), and The Last Good Water (Wayne State University Press, 2003), in addition to six chapbooks of poetry. He teaches creative writing at the Interlochen Arts Academy and has received several awards for his teaching.

Michael Delp has written a fearsome book. In a world where humans have overrun the wild, fenced it, or caged it like the bear in 'Mystery Park,' the men in these stories pay a visceral price. They flail, attack, recoil, rage. Delp looks unflinchingly at this distortion of nature-one species, its own predator and prey."

– Janet Kauffman, author of Trespassing: Dirt Stories & Field Notes

This gritty and visceral debut collection of short stories is as much prayer as it is prey, the characters-in all their haunts and desires-rendered compassionately, their collective instinct to love as fierce as their instinct for survival. Indeed 'the heart is a lonely hunter,' and it's a wild, feral, sometimes frightening insight into human nature that renders these stories all the more real, and therefore all the more beautiful."

– Jack Driscoll, author of How Like an Angel

Delp finds dark inspiration for these loose stories in the complicated transformation of boys to men. Delp is very at home in places where there's little hope amid the self-perpetuating ordeals of failure and defeat."

– Publishers Weekly

From the moment you peer through the binoculars into the room of the Nazi-worshipping bully across the street, you know you're in the hands of the rarest of pros. Michael Delp is a writer so skilled he becomes invisible, leaving you changed into all these people he's imagined. From the unstumpable Master of Minutiae, to the man showing his daughter the basement where he lost boxing match after boxing match as a kid, to the title story-perhaps the most harrowing tale of teacher burnout you'll ever read-these people are real, and they are you."

– Pete Fromm, author of As Cool As I Am, How All This Started, and Night Swimming

The writing is sharp and alluring. It's pretty funny, too, and the narratives are crisp. Many of the book's pleasures are the surprises. Delp has a genuine artfulness-his literary chops are such that he is co-editor of the series-and you can see that in the way he uses language to suggest so much more than is there on the page."

– The Sunday Chronicle (Muskegon, MI)

As If We Were Prey is a rather short book of short stories that al fly by quickly, which is to the author's credit. The quick read is not due only to Delp's fine-tuned pace, which is fuly intact here, but to the universality of the subject: the fault and folly of men. As it is within each narrative, there's a story arc that curves from the beginning to the end of the collection itself, a chronological frame that attempts to capture some essence of men in several of life's phases. That we are left with such a consideration is exemplary of the clever short fiction Delp shows he is more than capable of."

– MetroTimes

The collection of short stories about men, part of Wayne State's Made in Michigan Writers Series," has many merits. The writing is sharp and alluring. It's pretty funny, too, and the narratives are crisp. Many of this book's pleasures are the surprises. Delp has a genuine artfulness - his literary chops are such that he is co-editor of the series - and you can see that in the way he uses language to suggest so much more than is there on the page.

– Grand Rapids Living

In understated prose that remarkably says more in one sentence that many writers do in a paragraph, Delp takes us inside the head and hearts of his male characters, all of whom share a certain melancholy, both eerie and familiar, all in a style reminiscent of another up-north renowned author, Jim Harrison."

– Detroit News

Delp writes in a simple and easy style. But that's not to say his stories are simple and that's the great trick of As If We Were Prey. Al of the men he writes about are flawed in some way and how they forge their way through life is at the crux of the collection. There are a lot of short story writers who accomplish mush less than what Michael Delp does in such an amazingly short span."

– ForeWord Magazine

As If We Were Prey tells the stories of several men who under the pressures of life are taken to their limit as they try to make their way through life and all of its tiresome and stressful ways. His stories focus on the mindset we all face, and how we all handle differently. A read countless readers will relate to, As If We Were Prey is a fine short fiction collection that would do well in a any library catering to the genre."

– Midwest Book Review

Michael Delp's new anthology of short stories, As If We Were Prey, is a slim paperback that packs a powerful punch. It's impossible to tell what's going to happen [in Delp's stories]; the reader is whisked away in a series of small-town vignettes full of memorable scenes."

– Lansing State Journal

  • 2010 ForeWord Book of the Year - WINNER of the bronze medal in the category of Fiction-Short Stories.