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Leonard Michaels / Author Farrar Straus Giroux $18.95 (162p) I

This collection of autobiographical fiction by the author of I Would Have Saved Them If I Could and Going Places (a 1969 National Book Award nominee) is an example of the current redefinition of what is published as fiction. Created in fragments of journal entries, short stories and memoir-like confessions, a matrix of past and present formations is slowly brought into focus; thus, a life. The result is reminiscent in both text and texture of Philip Roth's The Facts. But Michaels has here presented a fictionalized self, an inverted set of facts that is concerned less with reality than with the rendering of experience, real or imagined, into poetic word form. As with Roth, there is a dreadful past marriage to an unstable woman whose untimely death provides release. (And as with Roth, some of the vicious craziness makes for sardonic and hilarious stories.) Early in the book Michaels warns, ``Anything you say to a writer is in danger of becoming writing.'' He also recalls meeting relatives who had survived the Holocaust and developing ``early notions of guilt as fundamental to life.'' From these discoveries springs this writer whose rueful inward gaze informs this delicate and touching narrative. (Aug.)