Place Published: Braddock, PA
Publisher: Alleyway Books
Date Published: September 2016
People trying to fit in, to belong, to find a place to call home. It’s an idea as simple to understand as it is difficult to achieve. And in Michael Leone’s carefully observed new collection, it arrives with insight, sensitivity, and a sly humor that snaps your head back mid-laugh and reveals the truth of things before you ever see it coming. In story after story, Leone guides us into the lives of people on the ropes and asks, What is home, really? How deep does it go? And how long will it last against the assaults of modern life? There’s the low-level bureaucrat living in his office and hiding it from his co-workers; there’s the young man navigating a graduation with a girlfriend, in-laws, a mother just released from a psychiatric institute, her divorced husband, and his new lover; there’s the displaced professional, writing a cover letter torqued tight with contradictory emotions; there’s the resentful adjunct at an academic departmental meeting who fills the minutes with personal grudges and a surprise admission; there’s the aspiring writer whose chance meeting with an established author reshapes his life in ways he never planned. Surly or sad, broken or brash, Leone’s characters hold your interest and demand your sympathy. The Real Natasha and Other Stories welcomes a compelling new voice to the literary scene.
Praise for The Real Natasha
These stories are dark, hysterical, and beautiful songs of preservation. Leone's self-defeating characters go on, stumbling through the days as best as they can, as they should, as we all do.
—Paula Bomer, author of Inside Madeleine and Nine Months
Michael Leone is one of the most versatile fiction writers around. He takes a variety of narrative approaches in these stories, and he's mastered tone to a degree that most writers, including yours truly, are simply incapable of. How many authors can make you laugh at the top of the page, then punch you in the belly at the bottom? The only thing Leone does in every story is engage. This is superb work. Hats off to the writer.
—Steve Yarbrough, author of The Realm of Last Chances, and The End of California
Original, hilarious, wily, savvy, and rippling with melancholy, the stories in Michael Leone’s The Real Natasha will have you laughing and cringing and rooting for the most wayward underdogs, while following their dark and twisted thinking and rationalizations. The Real Natasha is wonderfully written, compulsively readable, and highly entertaining. Leone is gifted at rendering despair, dread, and discomfort with sly hilarity, his sentences thrumming with pressure-cooker strength and wit.
—Victoria Patterson, author of The Little Brother, and This Vacant Paradise
Michael Leone's short stories have appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, the Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, and other literary journals. His non-fiction has appeared in LARB, the Southern Review, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in New Jersey with his daughter.