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Leonard Michaels (January 2, 1933 – May 10, 2003) was an American writer of short stories, novels, and essays.

Early Life and Education

Michaels was born in New York City to Jewish parents; his father was born in Poland. He attended New York University and was awarded a BA degree, and then went on to earn an MA and PhD in English Literature from the University of Michigan. After receiving his doctorate, Leonard Michaels moved to Berkeley, California, where he was to spend most of his adult life and become Professor of English.[1] Michaels would later explain literary theory to magazine readers across America.[2]

Literary career

In 1969, Michael's first book was published - Going Places, a collection of short stories. The book established his reputation as one of the most brilliant of that era's fiction writers; the stories are urbane, funny, and written in a private, hectic diction that gives them a remarkable edge.[citation needed][3]

His follow-up book, another collection of short stories, was I Would Have Saved Them If I Could, published in 1975. It was considered by some[who?] as strong as Michaels' debut.[1]

Michaels' first novel, released in 1981, was The Men's Club. It is story-like comedy that that simultaneously attacks and celebrates the absurdities of men as they gather in a kind of urban support group. In 1986, the novel was made into a film, directed by Peter Medak, with the screenplay by Michaels, and starring Roy Scheider, Harvey Keitel, Stockard Channing, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Frank Langella.

Michaels' second and last novel was published in 1992. Titled Sylvia, it is a fictionalized memoir of his first wife, Sylvia Bloch, who committed suicide. Sylvia is described in the book as "abnormally bright" but prone to violent rages, "like a madwoman imitating a college student."[4]

Michaels became a regular contributor to the New Yorker magazine in the 1990s.[5]

Other Information

Michaels was a Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.

Leonard took part in anti-Vietnam war protests in the San Francisco Bay area,[6] although he also accepted as description of himself as an 'unpolitical man'.

He is interred at Oakmont Memorial Park, in Lafayette, California.

Michaels had a daughter with his third wife, the poet Brenda Hillman.[7] His son Jesse Michaels (from his second marriage) was the vocalist and primary lyricist in the seminal underground punk rock band Operation Ivy.

Selected publications

Short Story Collections


  1. ^ a b "Leonard Michaels". Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  2. ^ "The Action of Metaphor". Retrieved 2016.10.284.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ "Harpers". Retrieved 2016-10-28. 
  4. ^ "National Public Radio (NPR)". Retrieved 2016-10-28. 
  5. ^ "New Yorker Magazine". Retrieved 2016-10-28. 
  6. ^ "Paris Review interview". Retrieved 2016-10-28. 
  7. ^ "Leonard Michaels Biography". January 2, 1933. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 

External links