From a writer whom master poet Seamus Heaney described as one "who risks much both stylistically and emotionally" comes 52 Men. Taut, spare and highly compressed autobiographical fiction for the mobile age, it is immensely funny and sexually charged.
In contemporary literary miniatures from a few lines to a few pages, Manhattan-raised Elise McKnight describes the men in her life who gradually reveal her: high-profile cultural leaders, writers and celebrities, as well as the down-to-earth waiter, student and police officer. Fifty-two strange, romantic and sexual interludes and relationships spark to life and disappear in the wind, leaving the reader always asking: What is Elise's power? What does she want and will she ever get it? Does she have a secret and if so, what is it?
With surprising, sometimes shocking and moving cameos by figures from tabloids and the news: Jay Carney, Jonathan Franzen, Lou Reed, Michael Stipe; and encounters with artists, financiers, and a boxer who reads Neruda at the Turkish baths.
About the Author
Louise Wareham Leonard writes with such rare intensity, rage, sadness and ferocious love, she lights up a world where expectancies and experiences of desire, sexuality and authenticity are redefined and exploded.Both devastating and, often, laugh-out-loud funny, her work has a savage purity forgiving both all and nothing demanding truth, wresting us from darkness to the ethereal, offering both solace and change. Born in New Zealand, she moved to Manhattan at age twelve, attended Columbia College and has received, amongst other awards, the James Jones Literary Society First Novel Award. She lives in upstate New York."
"52 Men suggests that our identity is at least in part a product of our romantic past, and that the particulars we choose to depict that past are significant, comprising a kind of personal psychobiography. . . . Leonard's focus is zoom-lens tight: she describes the various men, zeroing in on what they said and did--and how she responded--in a pivotal moment. . . . She suffered a grievous early trauma . . . and she's wounded. Yet she's also slyly, coolly observant and has transformed her experiences into art. . . . We know her, ultimately, through the book she has written. The narrative specifics she selects to describe the men are hers, as is the deadpan humor; all of it arises from her artistic consciousness. . . . Although in style and tone 52 Men differs from either Elizabeth Hardwick's Sleepless Nights or Renata Adler's Speedboat, it is, like both of these books, a novel of impressions unified by the author's sensibility."
--Amanda Fortini, Los Angeles Review of Books