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My Life in Heavy Metal: Storiesby Steve Almond
Synopses & Reviews
Steve Almond's collection My Life in Heavy Metal features twelve powerful stories that take a clear-eyed view of relationships between young men and women who have come of age in an era without innocence. In the title story, an El Paso newspaper clerk assigned to review the heavy metal bands that play the local arenas is drawn in by the primal music, which fuels a torrid affair with a Chicana woman that will change him forever. In "Geek Player, Love Slayer," a thirty-three-year-old woman harbors a secret, desperate crush on the young computer repairman in her office — until her ardor is unleashed at an after-work party, with unexpected consequences. In "Valentino," two teenagers spending their last summer together before heading off to college experience a sexual awakening inspired by the legend of a long-dead movie star. By turns tender and raw, visceral and otherworldly, the stories of My Life in Heavy Metal capture the moments when the fires of passion burn over and subside into embers of pain and longing. It is a dazzling debut by an exciting and vibrant new voice in American fiction.
"Fourteen delightful debut stories more often than not about man's powerlessness in the face of feminine beauty....Almond is at his best when emotion moves his plots and not the other way around, but even his misses are better than most first-time authors' hits." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"This collection of 12 short stories is populated by some interesting characters in problematic situations and some not-so-interesting ones in situations familiar enough to be trite....[T]here's enough intelligence, angst and humor woven through the collection to please the young audience at which it is aimed." Publishers Weekly
"Almond wraps up [the title] story, as he does many others, with a preachy little summary of the preceding tale that leaves the reader with Something to Think About....The regrettable thing about this introduction is that after the initial flatus that is 'My Life in Heavy Metal,' the author proceeds with a first book that by the end becomes downright entertaining, and he treats certain characters far more tenderly than the title story might suggest." Ann M. Bauer, CityPages.com
"Almond has a keen eye and a sharp sense of humor when detailing his characters' transgressions. None of these stories is anything less than thoroughly entertaining, and the best of them are funny, touching and disquieting....Underneath all the sexual frankness and clever descriptions, there's a moral sensibility at work that gives My Life in Heavy Metal a real potency." Rob Thomas, The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)
"This is the coolest and freshest collection of short stories I've read since the 1980s....Almond's writing is mostly first-rate, clear and perceptive, but he teaches creative writing at Boston College and his weaker stories seem designed for classroom consumption." Mark Lindquist, The Seattle Times
"The big thing in Almond's stories is that his characters really like to have sex....Almond writes well about the act itself, a pretty rare talent. But his stories take off when he embeds the sexy stuff in a specific context, when he looks beyond the bedroom at the world around him. He writes with a loose, anthropological humor..." Claire Dederer, The New York Times Book Review
"[Almond] writes in a way that is consistently clever and muscular and frequently moving. His care with details gives his images their spark and makes most of these 12 stories genuinely memorable....In My Life in Heavy Metal, we encounter a series of sharply drawn characters and see their desires profound and fleeting, how some are fed while others starve. That Steve Almond can capture such depth in a short story is a remarkable thing." Jules Verdone, The Boston Globe
"Almond's eye for modern types is impeccably, almost academically, sharp, and yet these stories, slight as they sometimes are, never come across as schoolwork. They're too funny, and, like the jilted sex buddy of 'The Body in Extremis,' a story that echoes Mary Gaitskill and Matthew Klam, they're determinedly 'softhearted and hopeful.'" Mark Rozzo, Los Angeles Times
"Almond's stories are indeed highly polished, but their passionate and horny philosophies are the stuff of brave truths and unwavering opinions ? sort of like if Bukowski got a degree in Psychology. So when his stories do some kiss-and-tell, you can bet there's going to be some kiss-and-contemplate shortly after....Almond takes us to all the treacherous, deviant, and awe-inspiring places that love and lust help create in our "human condition." And as in the best fiction, I could see him or anyone else living through all these tribulations and triumphs. It's a vastly entertaining ride." Kevin Sampsell, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
A first collection of twelve powerful stories that takes a clear-eyed view of relationships between young men and women who have come of age in an era without innocence, My Life in Heavy Metal received tremendous acclaim in hardcover. In the past year, Almond has won a Pushcart Prize and been a finalist for the National Magazine Award.
This first collection of 12 powerful stories takes a clear-eyed view of relationships between young men and women who have come of age in an era without innocence. A top five Book Sense 76 title.
About the Author
Steve Almond was raised in Palo Alto, California, aka "The Town Where God Will Retire." He spent seven years as a newspaper reporter, mostly in El Paso and Miami. He has been writing fiction for the last eight years. His work can be found in a whole bunch of literary magazines, along with the occasional porn outlet. He lives in Somerville, MA, and teaches creative writing at Boston College.
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