Leonard Michaels was a writer of unfailing emotional honesty. His memoirs, originally scattered through his story collections, are among the most thrilling evocations of growing up in the New York of the 1950s and '60s - and of continuing to grow up, in the cultural turmoil of the '70s and '80s, as a writer, teacher, lover, and reader. The same honesty and excitement shine in Michaels's highly personal commentaries on culture and art. Whether he's asking what makes a story, reviewing the history of the word "relationship," or reflecting on sex in the movies, he is funny, penetrating, surprising, always alive on the page. The Essays of Leonard Michaels is the definitive collection of his nonfiction and shows, yet again, why Michaels was singled out for praise by fellow writers as diverse as Susan Sontag, Larry McMurtry, William Styron, and Charles Baxter. Beyond autobiography or criticism, it is the record of a sensibility and of a style that is unmatched in American letters.
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