With this volume, Michaels can take his place next to other exemplars of the American short story, Malamud, Paley, O’Connor...



The collected fiction of the brilliant Leonard Michaels (1933–2003).

In this galvanizing book, the stories of Michaels’s debut, Going Places (1969), as well as I Would Have Saved Them If I Could (1975), are reprinted, one example of his talent after another. In “Manikin,” a college coed is raped by a Turkish exchange student and, as a result, abandoned by her Ivy League fiancé. In “The Deal,” a woman nervously negotiates with 20 raucous neighborhood boys for her stolen glove. In “Murderers,” the extravagant sex play of a newly married rabbi and his young wife leads to the death of one of the local youths who routinely spy on them. Fiction from three other volumes—Shuffle (1990), To Feel These Things (1993) and A Girl with a Monkey (2000)—is also offered. Sex and violence are salvation for some of the characters, as revenge is for others. Most of the protagonists, one generation past the Holocaust, live their lives in hot pursuit of something, anything. They just don’t know what. Also here are the previously uncollected Nachman stories, which Michaels was preparing for a book when he died. Starring the redoubtable Nachman—a renowned mathematician who lives alone, continuously puzzled by human relationships, by almost everything, really, save the beauty and logic of numbers—these stories are written in a controlled, elegant style that transforms the rapacious search for meaning that marked the author’s earlier work into a sublime meditation on love and life.

With this volume, Michaels can take his place next to other exemplars of the American short story, Malamud, Paley, O’Connor and Cheever.

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-374-12654-4

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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It's being called a novel, but it is more a hybrid: short-stories/essays/confessions about the Vietnam War—the subject that O'Brien reasonably comes back to with every book. Some of these stories/memoirs are very good in their starkness and factualness: the title piece, about what a foot soldier actually has on him (weights included) at any given time, lends a palpability that makes the emotional freight (fear, horror, guilt) correspond superbly. Maybe the most moving piece here is "On The Rainy River," about a draftee's ambivalence about going, and how he decided to go: "I would go to war—I would kill and maybe die—because I was embarrassed not to." But so much else is so structurally coy that real effects are muted and disadvantaged: O'Brien is writing a book more about earnestness than about war, and the peekaboos of this isn't really me but of course it truly is serve no true purpose. They make this an annoyingly arty book, hiding more than not behind Hemingwayesque time-signatures and puerile repetitions about war (and memory and everything else, for that matter) being hell and heaven both. A disappointment.

Pub Date: March 28, 1990

ISBN: 0618706410

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1990

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Readers seeking a tale well told will take pleasure in King’s sometimes-scary, sometimes merely gloomy pages.

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A gathering of short stories by an ascended master of the form.

Best known for mega-bestselling horror yarns, King (Finders Keepers, 2015, etc.) has been writing short stories for a very long time, moving among genres and honing his craft. This gathering of 20 stories, about half previously published and half new, speaks to King’s considerable abilities as a writer of genre fiction who manages to expand and improve the genre as he works; certainly no one has invested ordinary reality and ordinary objects with as much creepiness as King, mostly things that move (cars, kid’s scooters, Ferris wheels). Some stories would not have been out of place in the pulp magazines of the 1940s and ’50s, with allowances for modern references (“Somewhere far off, a helicopter beats at the sky over the Gulf. The DEA looking for drug runners, the Judge supposes”). Pulpy though some stories are, the published pieces have noble pedigrees, having appeared in places such as Granta and The New Yorker. Many inhabit the same literary universe as Raymond Carver, whom King even name-checks in an extraordinarily clever tale of the multiple realities hidden in a simple Kindle device: “What else is there by Raymond Carver in the worlds of Ur? Is there one—or a dozen, or a thousand—where he quit smoking, lived to be 70, and wrote another half a dozen books?” Like Carver, King often populates his stories with blue-collar people who drink too much, worry about money, and mistrust everything and everyone: “Every time you see bright stuff, somebody turns on the rain machine. The bright stuff is never colorfast.” Best of all, lifting the curtain, King prefaces the stories with notes about how they came about (“This one had to be told, because I knew exactly what kind of language I wanted to use”). Those notes alone make this a must for aspiring writers.

Readers seeking a tale well told will take pleasure in King’s sometimes-scary, sometimes merely gloomy pages.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1167-9

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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