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Leonard Michaels, I Would Have Saved Them If I Could



American author, Leonard Michaels reads from his book of shorts I Would Have Saved Them If I Could. Originally published in 1975, the collection has since been praised as being a work “of its time” and that it was penned by a masculine, yet vulnerable hand. Included among the stories is “Murderers,” “Something Evil,” and “Trotsky's Garden.”

A native of New York City, the author tackles issues relating to urban culture and crime, as well as immigration, Judaism, and Marxism. To his credit (or perhaps discredit), some of the works are charged with eroticism, sexuality, the underbelly of tenement housing, and the rather gruesome reality of life in the Lower East Side in the middle of the 20th Century.

Some challenged Michaels and the subject matter of his writing; disparaging its dark and seemingly bleak themes. In recognizing that his writing was as they claimed, he wrote "I'd never write about being happy. It's of no interest as a dramatic subject. Being sad feels personal, even unique." Despite the controversies surrounding his work, Michaels has been celebrated for being "a man of this world," whose texts have been likened to Donald Barthelme, as well as other existential writers of the late 20th Century.

A celebrated short story writer and noted academic, Leonard Michaels (1933 - 2003) was by no means, a prolific writer. Born to Jewish Polish immigrants, he grew up in Manhattan and pursued his undergraduate degree at NYU and received his PhD in English Literature from the University of Michigan. He later became a professor at the University of California, Berkley. A selection of his published works includes; Going Places, Shuffle, Time Out of Mind, and Girl With a Monkey: New and Selected Stories. His novel, The Men's Club, was made into a film in 1986.
 

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