Struggling with work, relationships, heartbreak, and romance? It’s all in Sherrie Flick’s “Thank Your Lucky Stars,” a short short fiction collection with all of that sprinkled with humor and a cowboy on top for good measure. There’s a wide range: married couples, parents and children, new relationships, students, mourning families, and rebellious children. In between are many stories that read like poetry, images of people in cities or insects at night that roll from hilarity to solemnity in the span of a sentence.
“Crickets” is one such poetic story spanning a page full of rich images that leap from one idea to another like the story’s namesake. One might think that it’d be nature-focused, but Flick personifies them in a small town “in their little black jumpsuits,” taking a comical approach of their singing like “pleasant car alarms” and more. Flick’s metaphors persist through her stories, bringing a dash of humor to some dark situations.
Some of Flick’s stories take dark turns even if the situations she presents appear odd or comedic. “Still Life” presents a man who returned from his internship, undresses, and neatly arranges the clothes he wears on a chair. He waits for night to drink, and then walks through town in the buck to sit on the railroad tracks, waiting for death to come. Not all is lost: he rouses himself and returns home. Come morning, his mother visits to care for him, gifts him a lovingly made bowl of soup, and reminds him she loves him, a reminder and bowlful of hope. Many people need some form of hope or love even if they appear to be well at face value or show a slew of warning signs that something is wrong that go ignored, be it about depression or other difficult situations.
The short stories feature relationship trouble or someone down on their luck. For relationships, mourning a dead spouse or parent, struggling in a failing open relationship, and trying to move forward and find a new relationship feature in this collection. For others, there’s the above “Still Life” covering suicidal thoughts, a story of experiencing someone struggling with substance abuse and other troubling behavior, and making an odd job work even if someone has to pretend to be a cowboy in suburbia. These stories target a range of ages with something in each that many people have faced at one point or another. There’s a little something unexpected in each of Flick’s stories that remind us to “Thank [Our] Lucky Stars” for the good present in any situation.