God Bless America

God Bless America

Stories

Book - 2011
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Baker & Taylor
A meditation on the American Dream and its discontents offers a comic and forlorn portrait of the United States.

Baker
& Taylor

A meditation on the American Dream and its discontents. In his most ambitious collection yet, Almond offers a comic and forlorn portrait of these United States: our lust for fame, our racial tensions, the toll of perpetual war, and the pursuit of romantic happiness.

Publisher: Wilmington, NC : Lookout Books, University of North Carolina Wilmington, c2011
ISBN: 9780984592234
0984592237
Characteristics: 211 p. : ill. ; 22 cm

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lukasevansherman
Sep 25, 2014

I probably shouldn't review this because I have a personal bias, but what the heck. I used to live in Boston and I met Steve Almond once and I'll never forgot his answer to how his recent book tour was: "It was f***ing rock and roll man." Maybe he felt compelled to say that because his collection "My Life in Heavy Metal" (a misleading title, btw) had just come out. As an aspiring writer (well, aspiring to fail), maybe there was some envy, but I mostly thought he was a tool, which colors how I read his books. This generically titled collection of short stories isn't so much bad as bland. Speaking from experience, much of them seem like what you'd read in a community eduction writer's workshop. Although the gushing praise on the back cover, including quotes from big shots like Junot Diaz and Karen Russell, includes words like "provocateur," "hilarious," "ruthless," "original," and "sexy," I found none of that to be true. They seem like sub-Saunders stories, a little absurd, a little comic, a little relevant (and I don't even like Saunders). He may touch on big topics like Iraq, 9/11, a father dying, race, and sex, but it never feels anything but shallow. An exception is the final story, "A Dream of Sleep," which is a touching portrait of an elderly European man who is a caretaker of a cemetery, but Almond can't resist throwing in an implausible twist that ruins the mood he's created. Cool cover though! It's like two dudes in animal masks in a shrink's office.

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