‘Nachman At The Races’ by Leonard Michaels

Michaels, Leonard 1999a

Nachman At The Races by Leonard Michaels, 1999

The magic trick:

Closing the ethical-dilemma narrative in a happy, optimistic way

Nachman Week continues at SSMT, and already I think it’s clear that these can often be cynical little stories. “Nachman At The Races” is decidedly not cynical. One might even call it optimistic. The ending is happy. Nachman, a character whose devil is in the details, uses his gifts for good. It leaves the reader smiling. And that’s quite a trick on Michaels’s part.

The selection:

Being a mathematician, naturally Nachman had a system for betting, but he considered it sufficient to believe his system worked. He never tested it scientifically. He was confident of its power. It even frightened him a little to think he could name the winning horse almost anytime. Occasionally, after reading the Daily Racing Form and tip sheets, Nachman felt tempted to name the winner – but only out of curiosity – and he’d been right often enough to believe he could be right almost always. He had no intention of exerting himself further, and actually applying his knowledge.

What do you think about this story? As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

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