Synopses & Reviews
Leonard Michaels was a master of the short story. His collections are among the most admired, influential, and exciting of the last half century. The Collected Stories
brings them back into print, from the astonishing debut Going Places
(1969) to the uncollected last stories, unavailable since they appeared in The New Yorker
, Threepenny Review
, and Partisan Review
At every stage in his career, Michaels produced taut, spare tales of sex, love, and other adult intimacies: gossip, argument, friendship, guilt, rage. A fearless writer--"destructive, joyful, brilliant, purely creative," in the words of John Hawkes--Michaels probed his characters' motivations with brutal humor and startling frankness; his ear for the vernacular puts him in the company of Philip Roth, Grace Paley, and Bernard Malamud. Remarkable for its compression and cadences, his prose is nothing short of addictive.
The Collected Stories is a landmark.
"'Though Michaels, who died in 2003 at the age of 70, is probably best known for his novel The Men's Club (1981), these 38 stories attest to his skill as a short story writer. Readers coming to Michaels's work for the first time will find the early, pointed stories from his noteworthy collections, Going Places and I Would Have Saved Them If I Could as well as some of his later works that have never been collected. Michaels's early stories are written with a frantic sexuality that displays his distinctive dark humor. In 'Fingers and Toes,' recurring characters Henry and Phillip weigh the value of their friendship against their encounters with the same woman through a set of urban hallucinations characteristic of the early stories. Raphael Nachman, the icon of Michaels's later fiction, is an aging mathematician at UCLA and a surprising foil to Michaels's usual kinetic energy. In the first Nachman story, the professor takes a guest lectureship in his ancestral Poland and tries to reconcile his analytical yet peaceful view of the world with his family's history. Fans of the author should be thrilled at having such a wide body of work between two covers. Simultaneous publication with the reissue of Michaels's novel Sylvia. (June) This collection of 18 sketches, 10 of which appeared in the New Yorker, is Allen's first in 25 years. The animating comedy is part S.J. Perelman and part borscht belt: Allen piles the ludicrous on top of the ridiculous and tops it with an acidic lemon squeeze, and then just keeps the jokes coming. So when the babysitter in 'Nanny Dearest' describes her boss 'Bidnick gorges himself on Viagra, but the dosage makes him hallucinate and causes him to imagine he is Pliny the Elder' we laugh; when, in a piece making fun of the New York Times science page, 'Strung Out,' Allen notes that 'to a man standing on the shore, time passes quicker than to a man on a boat especially if the man on the boat is with his wife' we groan. Sometimes the simplest pieces work best: man goes to New Age retreat and learns to levitate, but not to get back down. While this collection doesn't quite measure up to Allen's Without Feathers (1975), there are pieces here for instance, the report on Mickey Mouse's testimony at the Michael Eisner/Michael Ovitz trial that will put a rictus on your kisser. (June)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Michaels was a master of the short story, and his collections are among the most admired, influential, and exciting of the last half century. This collection brings them back into print, from the astonishing debut "Going PlacesS to the uncollected last stories.
“Leonard Michaelss stories stand alongside those of his best Jewish contemporaries—Grace Paley and Philip Roth.” —Mona Simpson, The New York Times Book Review
“Leonard Michaels was an original . . . with a concise, pungent and pyrotechnic style that tolerated no flab.” —Phillip Lopate, The Nation
“As good as any writer youre likely to run across.” —Alex Abramovich, Bookforum
About the Author
Leonard Michaels (1933-2003) was the author of five collections of stories and essays—Going Places, I Would Have Saved Them If I Could, Shuffle, A Girl with a Monkey, and To Feel These Things—as well as two novels, Sylvia and The Mens Club. All of his fiction will be reissued as FSG Classics.