‘Manikin’ by Leonard Michaels

Michaels, Leonard 1968

Manikin by Leonard Michaels, 1968

The magic trick:

Setting up an array of negative events and negative characters, giving the reader plenty to ponder in assessing for blame and explanation

Many bad things happen in this story. As the reader begins to assess the damage, the obvious lines to connect involve the character known only as the Turk and his act of rape. And that wouldn’t be wrong. Of course. But there’s more to it than that, right? There are other abhorrent characters with abhorrent actions and reactions. There is a veritable buffet of spoiled adolescents baffled by sex for the reader to consider and judge. And that’s quite a trick on Michaels’s part.

The selection:

She didn’t tell the rabbi or any other authority about the rape, and wouldn’t dream of telling Harry Stone because he tended to become irrationally jealous and like homosexual Othello would assume she had gone out with armies of men aside from the Turk, which wasn’t true.

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