Monday, June 18, 2007

New Release Spotlight: Leonard Michael's Collected Stories

The Collected Stories, by Leonard Michaels

It's tempting to say that Michaels's stories move breathlessly, as in the anthology's startling opening, "Manikin," which begins with a rape and ends with a suicide, consensual sex, platonic admiration, and obsession melted in between and oozing out the seams. But a simple sprint would be too boring for Michaels. Instead, his words run and fall back, introducing the suicide victim with the unexpected image of "naked feet like bell clappers" or, in a later story, "Mildred," amid talk of illegal abortions and just before reality tailspins and the male characters eat the female's womb, cutting dialog and leaving only sentences like, "Max was saying and Sleek added." Though his 1981 novel, The Men's Club, earned Michaels both praise (a National Book Critics Circle nomination for best novel) and criticism (some saw the content as misogynistic), he was considered an exceptional writer throughout his career. This anthology includes the Nachman stories, Michaels's only pieces not collected elsewhere. In a perfect world, these stories, less frantic but just as complex as his earlier ones, should be enough to sell the book.

Excerpt of review by Kristin Thiel, Indigo Editing, LLC
Previously published in
The Library Journal

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