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Paradise Dance Paperback – August 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Lee makes an impressive debut in this collection, following in the stylistic footsteps of Andre Dubus and Raymond Carver, as he explores the fictional Boston suburb of Albright. He pays homage to his mentors early on, particularly in the opening story, "Glory," in which a man goes to a bar with his father and ends up in an arm-wrestling match, the implications of which go beyond the beating of his opponent. Military themes also surface early, as in the complex "Koza Nights," which outlines the postwar fate of a soldier who killed a prostitute in Vietnam and finds himself being blackmailed by a down-and-out fellow Marine. "Secrets of Cooperstown" follows a couple to a military reunion, where the wife is confronted with a disturbing revelation about her husband. Lee's lighter side surfaces in "The Albright Kid," a charming yarn about a boy who encounters Ted Williams at a baseball camp, and also in "Another Wonder of the World," a humorous tale about some bar buddies who try to start an X-rated miniature golf course. Things turn serious in the title story, which delves into the experience of a teacher who instructs residents of the local rest home in the art of memoir writing. Lee offers a heady blend of compassion, razor-sharp wit and well-honed storytelling skills. His unpublished work has been enjoyed by a select crowd for almost two decades, but this collection is a bid for more general recognition.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Men mostly inhabit Lee's first collection of short fiction. Former Vietnam veterans come to terms with that war's ravages, frustrated writers resist writer's block, and sons seek fleeting connections with fathers. While the abundance of male voices endows the book with a decidedly masculine tone, no readers will succumb to a testosterone overdose. Almost without exception, Lee's characters demonstrate a graceful grit and a sad, but not hopeless, self-awareness about their own unique Achilles' heel. Life in Albright, MA, has taken its toll, but their spirits are resilient, their sense of humor not abandoned. In "Another Wonder of the World," a darkly humorous tale about three friends who build the world's first X-rated miniature golf course, the narrator sums up the characters' collective spirit best when he proclaims, "Don't count us out, America." Until this debut, Lee had been New England's best-kept literary secret, but Leapfrog is to be commended for revealing this strong new voice to American literature aficionados. Strongly recommended. Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon, Eugene
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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Carrol-(winner of National Book Award) wrote the foward to this book.
Dubus III and Mailer-Recommended the book on the book sleeve. So who is Michael Lee?
Michael is a talented author from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. His hard hitting and often humorous stories take place in the fictitious working class town of Albright, MA. One thing you should know is that people like the Clevers, the Andersons, the Bradys, the Wilsons, and the Partridge's don't appear in this collection. Certainly if they lived in Albright, you won't meet them in this excellant collection. The folks you meet in Albright are the regular, unhappy souls, he would find in any normal American working class town. You will find out their stories, their strange behaviors, their interesting hobbies (Adult XXX,mini-golf anyone?), and their deep dark wishes. The stories are well written, short, bittersweet and punchy. You get to know the people from Albright individually in each story, and then Lee will take you to the next scene, the next story. Using the town as the common thread works wonderfully here and in my humble opinion, Micheal Lee will be a man on the literary move, a force to be reckoned with.
People come first in Lee's world, and he introduces some beauts and some beauties. From Frankie and Bobby in Oklahoma to "Nola" Bowden, all of his characters express their innermost thoughts whether we're ready or not.
Lee is able to describe feelings many of us have shared in language that is crisp and direct, but applied in circumstances that few, if any, could claim to share. Neither the plight of budding entrepeneurs in the XXX sports market, nor the happiness of an immobile street performer in Paris tickled a neuron of identification with me, but the desperate need to succeed or simply to be the first in one's family to be happy are so fundamental that each of us is able is pick off a piece of such longing to consume and reflect on.
"Paradise Dance" is an eclectic package of disparate characters brought to the edge by a handful of emotions. Where the hell is Albright , Massachusetts anyway?
LAUGHED, CRIED AND WAS DEFINITELY MOVED.
LEE'S GRASP OF HIS CHARACTERS AND THE CHALLENGES THEY ENCOUNTER
EXHIBITS AN ADEPT UNDERSTANDING OF THE QUIET NOBILITY THAT RESIDES
IN THE HUMAN CONDITION.
THE BEST COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES I'VE READ THIS SEASON.
LEE HAS THE GOODS!
who reads this book will look with new insight into their lives and those closest to them. This collection of short stories is a must read.