Mick's Bag by Milton F. Heller III


College graduates are misfits in both labor and office jobs. A man reels, mentally, during a routine physical. A woman’s patience is tested by her date’s preoccupation with an obscure historical figure. A school reunion infuriates older alumni. In Heller’s twelve stories, a humorous tone pokes fun at essentially serious situations. Milton F. Heller III, a career journalist, including fifteen years at The Washington Post, is the author of a novel, A Long Run Home. He lives with his wife in Alexandria, Virginia.

“Pull up a chair, as announcer Vin Scully might say. Get comfortable with a glass of Chablis on the back deck, majestic woods in the background. Grab the hammock as you listen to the ocean roar from your beach house. Or curl up on the sofa with a crackling fireplace nearby. You are now ready to read Mick’s Bag, a lovely collection of short stories by erstwhile sportswriter turned storyteller Milton F. Heller III. With a fine eye for detail and souls, Heller spins some truly short tales about people at turning points. Meet Henry, trying out a cottage in Northern California. Or Michael, interviewing for a job at a small newspaper in Vermont. Or Jack Walker, attending a 45th-anniversary school reunion.Opportunity is a frequent thread in these stories, men seeking out jobs or other people or even information. The universal experience is prominent – the ambiguity of a class reunion, uneasiness in a medical setting (found in 2 stories), the ambivalence of seeing singer Jackson Browne decades after his turn in the spotlight. Heller has a fine eye for detail – ‘an old clock stuck on XII’ in an unfamiliar town – and useful phrases – a coach who’d rather have his players make mistakes of ‘commission rather than omission.’ The slim collection of 100 pages makes the reader yearn for more. Heller surely has not yet touched all the bases.”

- Tom Rowe