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Your Life Idyllic

Publication Date: August 2014


The characters in these stories think too much.  It’s why they suffer.  Whitman’s “I contain multitudes” is a curse here, as the mostly blue collar Detroiters in these stories wrestle with the rich, uncomfortable nuances of the “examined life” while the turmoil of bar fights, bill paying, family estrangement, and detox hurdles them towards enlightenment.


“Craig Bernier’s collection of short stories, ‘Your Life Idyllic,’ is a stunning debut, a work of startling power and vision. When I finished reading his book and reluctantly closed the cover, I found myself recalling the thoughts and feelings I had entertained when I first read some of the greats of short fiction: Ray Carver, Richard Ford, Jayne Anne Phillips and more recently, Thom Jones. I believe Bernier’s book belongs on the shelf next to these aforementioned wonderful and important writers.”

– Chuck Kinder

These mighty stories of Detroit give us a great soul struggling up from ruin, full of grace, courage, and a hopeful heart. No one knows the city better than Bernier, and no one writes about it with anything like his tender and glorious savagery.”

– Michael Byers

The stories in Craig Bernier’s ‘Your Life Idyllic’ are brimming with straight-up Detroit authenticity. Full of bowlers, boozers, truckers, and factory rats, not to mention Madonna-loving, yoga-practicing blacksmiths, these characters are Motor City to the bone. Equal parts grit, spirit, anger, pride, intelligence, and oh yeah, they’re funny as fuck. They’re what happens when you live in a city that’s had its ass handed to it again and again, but keeps on getting up. Read this homeboy. Bernier writes as if his life depended on it. I have a feeling that it did.”

– Michael Zadoorian

The Detroit of Craig Bernier’s dazzling new collection ‘Your Life Idyllic’, is more than just an idea, a blue-collar icon gone bust. It’s the home of hopeful, hard working dreamers who sometimes let their vices get the best of them. It’s a place where unsuspecting pool sharks meet the business ends of fire-extinguishers and redemption comes not in the form of a big payday but a phone call made. It’s a place where celebrities materialize in mundane locales and make us question what it means to matter. These stories offer moments of transcendent beauty that supersede hardship. Like the abandoned industrial sprawl these characters drive through, ‘Your Life Idyllic’ is all at once heartbreaking, eerily lovely, and unforgettable.”

– Eugene Cross

These stories grab your heart and squeeze when they’re not grabbing you around the neck and squeezing. Bernier is lighting a fire in the belly of the beast in these unflinching tales of lives in the balance, lives clutching the splintered rungs on the bottom of the ladder, lives spent watching the pages to the rulebook for the American Dream shred themselves into dust. He knows his city, and he knows its people-people who must make tough choices, choices where no one wins, and the consolation prize is simply survival. A remarkable, riveting debut collection.”

– Jim Daniels

About the Author

Craig Bernier

Craig Bernier has worked a range of occupations from technical writer to bartender, carpenter to dish washer, sailor to kennel cleaner.  Most recently he was employed by Duquesne University as an Instructor of Writing.  He is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit and was the Jacob K. Javits Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh from 2002 to 2005 where he earned his M.F.A.  His stories have been published in The Roanoke Review, Western Humanities Review, Dogwood, Gigantic Sequins, and in a story anthology from Akashic Books titled Detroit Noir.  His nonfiction has appeared in the journal Creative Nonfiction.  Originally from southeastern Michigan, home is currently a stone’s throw from Pittsburgh, in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.  He is at work on a novel and a collection of essays on motorcycling.

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