Short Stories by
"What a good
Michael Lee is a New England literary treasureand
until now, a secret. An original voice from the working-class outskirts of Boston,
Lees standing-room-only readings have been delighting audiences for twenty years.
Leapfrog is proud to be the first to collect his poignant and hilarious stories. In
this moving and often quite humorous debut collection, Mike Lee enters the territory of
Richard Russo and Russell Banks, the New England of forgotten mill towns and abandoned
hopes, of people with few illusions trying to put their losses behind them. A late
bloomer, much like the characters in these stories, Lee has performed and polished his
stories in backwater Boston-area bars and coffee houses for over twenty years. Drawing
praise from acknowledged writing masters as well as budding stars, Lees stories
touch all generations, and all social classes, with their rendering of lives down but not
out; of self-declared failureswriting teachers, Nam vets, hopelessly clumsy teenage
athletes, widows of unfaithful politicianswho nonetheless try and try again. In the
words of National Book Award winner James Carroll, What is eternity, Lee asks, but
standing under a fly ball, waiting for the ambulance, thinking of what to engrave on a
tombstone, regretting a marriage, asking for a date, hoping for the Red Sox? And what is the ordinary world when observed with
feeling, wisdom, generosity, and, yes, loveif not paradise after all? Indeed,
what is Paradise Dance but the overdue
introduction of a wise and tender new voice.
"A varied and accomplished debut collection from a
longtime live storyteller. Breadth rules here but more often than not these are stories of
people running from mistakes, recent or ancient. Lee's voice fits perfectly...Solid work
from a writer who should have been recognized long ago."
"Michael Lee's short stories have a rare quality.
They are tough, hard-bitten, and surprisingly sensitive to the nuances that motivate
behavior in people we assume too quickly are without nuance. What a good read!"
"In Michael Lee's stunningly crafted stories, we find
people who suffer few illusions as to how they've lost their way, people on the cusp of
making peace with all that will never be, yet who still yearn for one good kiss, one true
triumph, one moment of lasting grace. Lee's vision is full of compassion, forgiveness, and
hope, but is also unsparing in its veracity made all the more symphonic with humor: a
tender humor that does not mask the wounds here, but tends to them. This is an important
and memorable collection."
"Viet vets, failed musicians, waitresses, office
workers, mediocre professors, middle managers, bartenders, fathers and sons: Michael
Lees Paradise Dance is a world peopled by adult men and their women who are having a
hard time of it, but who will not lay down and die and who cling for dear life to that
which holds them up, their sense of humor and a few fleeting moments of love. These are
guys who stand up and square off with life even when they know they cant win,
hard-boiled neer-do-wells indefatigably cracking wise in the teeth of it all. And
their stories are equal parts sadness and belly laugh. A trace of Raymond Carver mixed
with Damon Runyon and Dave Barry, Lee fulfills the time-honored ingredient for a good
read: make em laugh, make em weep!
Mike Lee's stories provide a
literary feast! They're gritty, but unafraid of the risks of sentiment, and
leavened with wit. Here's a range of characters to delight in, all of them flawed,
but courageously human. And his milieu, Albright, Massachusetts, a mill town in
decline, is a world-in-small, one this reader came to know as if he had lived there
himself. And the title story alone is worth the price of this collection. What
a fine gathering of fictions, craft and heart and stylebravo!
always admired Lee for his fast ball. His breaking stuff never sucked either. But not
until the publication of Paradise Dance did I get a look at his change-up. It's an
education watching him work. And a thrill to see him throwing in the majors. To him and to
all who have yet to read him: Welcome to the show."