Leonard Michaels

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Leonard Michaels
Leonard Michaels
Leonard Michaels
Born(1933-01-02)January 2, 1933
New York City
DiedMay 10, 2003(2003-05-10) (aged 70)
  • Essayist
  • screenwriter
  • novelist
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
GenreFiction, non-fiction

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

Early life and education[edit]

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 at the University of California.[1] Michaels would later explain literary theory to magazine readers across America.[2]

Literary career[edit]

In 1969, Michael's first book was published – Going Places, a collection of short stories.[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 as strong as Michaels' debut.[1][4]

Michaels' first novel, released in 1981, was The Men's Club. It is story-like comedy 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."[5] Sylvia incorporates passages from Michaels' diary, a selection of which was published under the title Time Out of Mind in 1999.[6]

Michaels became a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine in the 1990s.[7]

Other information[edit]

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

He took part in anti-Vietnam war protests in the San Francisco Bay area,[8] although he also accepted a 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.[9] 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[edit]

Short story collections
  • Going Places (1969, ISBN 0-374-16496-7)
  • I Would Have Saved Them If I Could (1975, ISBN 0-374-17411-3)
  • Shuffle (1990, ISBN 0-374-26349-3)
  • A Girl With a Monkey: New and Selected Stories (2000, ISBN 1-56279-120-6)
  • The Collected Stories (2007, ISBN 0-374-12654-2)
  • The Nachman Stories (2017, ISBN 978-1-911-54707-5)


  1. ^ a b "Leonard Michaels". Senate.universityofcalifornia.edu. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  2. ^ "The Action of Metaphor". harpers.org. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  3. ^ "Harpers". harpers.org. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  4. ^ Edwards, Thomas (August 3, 1975). "I Would Have Saved Them If I Could". The New York Times. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  5. ^ "National Public Radio (NPR)". npr.org. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  6. ^ "Time Out of Mind: The Diaries of Leonard Michaels, 1961-1995". publsihersweekly.com. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  7. ^ "New Yorker Magazine". newyorker.com. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  8. ^ "Paris Review interview". theparisreview.org. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  9. ^ "Leonard Michaels Biography". eNotes.com. January 2, 1933. Retrieved January 19, 2014.

External links[edit]