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The Collected Stories

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  358 ratings  ·  50 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.

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Hardcover, 416 pages
Published May 29th 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2007)
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After finishing Stories (and not so long ago, Michaels' short autobiographical novel, Sylvia), I'm surprised that the author isn't more universally celebrated. It could be his ambitious and experimental variations on Philip Roth's eros/thanatos obsessions don't sit well in these politically correct times. Or that Michaels simply didn't produce enough work to warrant entry into the elite 20th century canon. Regardless, these are visceral and immediate stories that are all too rare these days.
Jeff Takaki
I get a sweet and sickly feeling from these stories. The content is NY and there's a draw to better times to big city life, but I've been hooked by the writing style. Sentences are clipped just so...everything is said just so...the reader is given information just so. I can't love this book, it is not something to love, it is not warm or piercing or triumphant, but it IS something good to read by a good writer.
Jan 18, 2008 Stephan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Raymond Carver Fans, Anyone who secretly finds getting their haircut a sensual experience
From Wikipedia:"His son Jesse Michaels was vocalist in the seminal underground punk rock band Operation Ivy, a precursor to Rancid." Little to do with Michaels other than getting me thinking how everything just adds up unknowingly provoking something else. How we all affect change even if it isn't evident in our ends. And it's admirable how maybe he didn't find total success, but existed so well at what he did that years later his works are being reissued and he can influence others with that ex ...more
"Larry said, "Tails." I heard a sort of keening in his voice, high and miserable. It came from neither fear nor defiance, but like the wind of Golgotha, from desolation. In that instant, I knew the difference between winners and losers has no relation to talent or beauty or personal will, what athletes call "desire," but only to a will beyond ourselves. Larry had just established his connection to it. If I weren't exceedingly frugal, I'd have bet every cent I made that summer on him." (244)

"I sm
Eric T. Voigt Voigt
I feel like giving an eHarmony-style testimony about how I got to get smitten with this book. This was a straight up Goodreads recommendation. I don't remember why I went with it. Maybe I'd seen Leonard Michaels name often enough when it was previously recommended, back when I was being pitched the short stories released in their own little books, but their descriptions never popped out at me unlike this one's for some reason. Anyway, this book made me laugh out loud a lot, and it's rare enough ...more
This is my new favorite book. There is so much to admire on each page, a turn of phrase that takes away the reader's breath in each paragraph. Leonard Michaels is the writer that writers want to read; he belongs in the pantheon of Chekov, Carver, Dubus - he holds his own in their presence. This is the first book in decades I've immediately re-read upon completion... that's why it has been on my currently-reading list for so long. I'm already preparing to read it again. In the meantime, I'll be a ...more
This edition is provides a marvelous vantage point from which the creative trajectory of LM becomes clear. Starting from flashy, acrid stories of the 60s and 70s, in which Babel and the Russian Formalists go fucking around in Manhattan, running across a period of what seems to be intellectually induced disorientation, where the author seems to give a slap to every authoritative philosophizer he meets saying "come again?", bullying the reader into consuming diaries as a form of fiction and enjoyi ...more
so i wrote my college essay, the big one, the common app essay, the personal statement, about leonard michaels. did i begin my notes about "sylvia" with that? i'm sure i did. it will now remain always the most relevant aspect to me about leonard michaels. i just checked; yes, i did. the difference between the collected stories and sylvia is that my college essay wasn't about sylvia, which is a "fictional memoir," it was about the short stories, the short stories of leonard michaels. i mean it wa ...more
Like the Men's Club, most of these stories are nearly perfect, marred only by some bitter misogyny, some tone-deaf characterizations (mostly of women) and some scattershot language experiments that occlude more than elucidate.

But on the upside, there are some truly bizarre images and phrasings in these stories. The stories are often very funny and tragic, as most things in life are. He's doing something very different from Roth but if you've got a hunger for weirdo, horny New York jews from a va
Katie Charles
Aug 30, 2008 Katie Charles rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Katie by: Maura at Three Lives
Ratty dysfunctional New York, self-hating Jewish intellectuals, peeping Toms outside the rabbi's window: Leonard Michaels, bookworm and seducer, lived through the tumult of the late 60s and early 70s, when downtown living was cheap and rough. Boy does he have stories to tell. Few writers manage prose as lean and poetic as Michaels does in this collection.
Brief explorations of human interaction, usually with a sexual charge, always with deep, carefully rendered feeling, be that feeling callousness, desolation, or awe. I especially loved the mathematician title character of the Nachman stories. I will definitely be seeking out more of Michaels's work.
Dec 01, 2008 Robert rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: short story fans.
I became an admirer of Leonard Michael's fiction when I read The Men's Club twenty years ago. The Men's Club is a short, mordant novel about seven men who gather in the Berkeley hills to discuss life, hardly a topic I can imagine tackling with any six of my male friends (for me it's a one-on-one subject; even if there were only three of us, one would be left out.) In the end, they talk more about the women in their lives than anything else, revealing the pains and resentments and confusions men ...more
Paul (formerly known as Current)
Being a collection of short stories that covers a wide period of time (from the first collection of stories: Going Places (1969) through: A Girl with a Monkey (2000) and the Nachman stories), it is wonderful to progress through the variety of highly distinctive and unique stories that Leonard Michaels built. Although I find some similarity with Donald Barthelme's writing, these stories are unique in their language and style.

Human beings being animals of orders and classifications, I would say th
Having heard one Michaels' "Nachman stories" read recently on the New Yorker fiction podcast, I recalled how much I enjoyed reading several of Michaels' stories and essays years ago. I purchased the Kindle edition and read or re-read all the Nachman stories: several stories that he wrote about the same character, the socially maladroit mathematician but captivating character Nachman. I recommend them highly.
Lucas Miller
I read The Collected Stories occasionally over about a year. These stories range from ebullient to lethargic and always carry, at their core, a tough kernel of sadness that transforms commonplace observation into surprisingly insightful moments. I don't know why Michaels isn't more widely known and read, or why he isn't mentioned more often as an influence on innumerable short authors today. Highly recommended.
Was prompted to read the Nachman stories by a recent New Yorker Fiction podcast reading of "The Penultimate Conjecture". A very singular and rich perspective. I found it amazing how easily Michaels is able to convey the mathematical mindset without mentioning much math content. A real shame Michaels died before completing these.
Five stars for the Nachman stories. Nachman is a mathematician at UCLA. He is well known among mathematicians, and more or less content. He lives alone, but appreciates people. These stories are about how he maintains friendships and loves women, with little physical contact, but harrowing internal struggles of the mind. There are seven Nachman stories, and Michaels died while completing a book of Nachman stories. I suspect anyone who reads these will grow fond of Nachman, the sensitive genius.

I have read most of the stories in this book in their original, now out-of-print collections (I WOULD HAVE SAVED THEM IF I COULD, GOING PLACES and SHUFFLE) or in Harper's magazine and other literary journals. A cool, funky high school teacher of mine suggested I read I WOULD HAVE SAVED THEM twenty years ago, and I have been seeking out Michaels' writing ever since. He's a great unsung hero of mine. For a few years I subscribed to THE THREEPENNY REVIEW mainly because he so often wrote short piece ...more
I first became aware of Leonard Michaels when I heard one of the Nachman stories read on The New Yorker Fiction podcast. (An excellent podcast, by the way, for anyone who loves literature.) I don't know that I can put my finger on what it was that so completely sucked me in, but I had to get the book so I could read about Nachman's other adventures. I was not disappointed; the rest of the stories were just as engrossing as the first.

I have to admit that I have yet to read the rest of the book b
Daniel Gasperut
I forgot how much I like the nachman stories.
Hai-Dang Phan
The best American writer you've probably never heard of. Until a month ago, he was a no name to me. Now, I'm reading everything I can find by and about Leonard Michaels. Here's a leaner, meaner Roth, all excess verbiage burnt off; a pitch-perfect, tonally complex Amerikan Kafka for the late, not so great 20th century; a brooding, lusty, and violent Byron without a banner to carry and be carried off by; Michaels, unacknowledged master of the short story.
Sep 26, 2011 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: stories
So here's where the star system falls apart. The first collection, 1969's "Going Places," is five-star. The last group here, the Nachman stories, is also five-star. In the middle, there's some brilliance and some not-so-brilliance. But was a complete career retrospective ever uniformly great? I leave the book with a nebulous five-star feeling, so the five stars above will stand.
Loreen Niewenhuis
I enjoyed reading this collection of Michaels' short stories. I was not that familiar with him, and it was interesting to watch how his stories changed over time in form and content and shape, even. I think I enjoyed his 'Nachman' stories the most, though some of his earlier work was brilliant, the prose sparkled and had a jazz riff to it at times.
Spare but muscular prose. Worth a read though I wouldn't call it enjoyable.
Though I'm also excited to read his more well-known early stories, I must admit I'm hopeful that the stories about a mathematician will be a notable exception to the slew of tired drivel put out in the past ten or so years using mathematics as a vehicle for tired plot lines about some mysterious recluse (biography or fiction, in fact).
Tiah Keever
I got this book on sale at Powell's randomly. When I went to the register the man working declared that it was really good and asked If I had read any of his works before. I said no, he said they were great. So far yes, the answer is yes. This book is good. Not for the faint of heart or those who require a linear story line.
Liz Janet
Okay, how do more people not know about him? How is he not as famous as all those young-adult writers that have written horrible fiction? I just do not understand this!!!! It seems like he is so underrated and he does not deserve that at all. Just, read him please, anything at all, just read him.
Michaels' short stories are amazing. I had never heard of him until I read a book review about this collection. Seemed like the type of writer I would enjoy and I was not disappointed. I'm especially fond of his use of metaphors, descriptions and adjectives - pleasantly surprising!
Michael Seidel
Love, love, loved the first two books of stories, but it kind of feel apart for me after that. The Nachman stories felt really forced, unoriginal, uninspired. Wish I would have stopped after those first two books. Pure magic, they were. Life-changing, almost!
Oct 23, 2007 Jennifer is currently reading it
Recommends it for: short-story readers; fans of Grace Paely
spare, powerful, imaginative the paraphrased words of Robert Pinsky, Michaels's stories have an economy and violence that are two sides of the same coin--both are a sign of the writer's impatience and excision of all unnecessary words
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Powell's reprint of Mason's 2007 Harper's article 1 6 Feb 07, 2010 11:40PM  
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Leonard Michaels was an American writer of short stories, novels, and essays and a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.

Going Places, his first book of short stories, made his reputation as one of the most brilliant of that era's fiction writers; the stories are urban, funny, and written in a private, hectic diction that gives them a remarkable edge. The follow-up, coming
More about Leonard Michaels...
Sylvia I Would Have Saved Them If I Could The Men's Club Going Places The Essays of Leonard Michaels

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“Of mystery there is no end. Of clarity, there is precious little.” 5 likes
“In 1982, Raphael Nachman, visiting lecturer in mathematics at the university in Cracow, declined the tour of Auschwitz, where his grandparents had died, and asked instead to visit the ghetto where they had lived.” 3 likes
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