Leonard Michaels’s stories are most often admired for his whimsical style, his erotic satire, and his comic treatment of sexual violence. More than one critic has noted that his stories raise the old aesthetic/moral question of how it is possible to write about something horrible and hideous that is simultaneously hilarious and beautiful. Citing the influence of Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Isaac Babel, Jorge Luis Borges, and Franz Kafka, reviewers admire Michael’s fantastic plots and metaphorical style, which has been characterized as poetic realism. Combining fantasy and concrete realism, Michaels creates darkly terrifying worlds that keep readers laughing until they become appalled at what has made them laugh. As Michaels’s recurring autobiographical persona, Phillip Leibowitz, encounters Conradian hearts of darkness and secret sharers in the jungle of New York City, he is always amazed at the mysterious multiplicity of the world around him.
In this account of an encounter between a young woman and a group of fourteen-to fifteen-year-old boys over the woman’s dropped glove, threat and tension shift back and forth between the boys and the young woman. The dangerous little dance between the woman and the gang (described by Michaels as a “monster of boys”) begins harmlessly enough as she asks them if they have seen her dropped glove. The teasing game of “keep away” that the boys play shifts to a possible...
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