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.