The Evil B.B. Chow: Almond Joy
By
J. Gordon
5/28/2005 5:28:21 PM

Somewhere in-between. Author Steve Almond knows that’s where the richest earth lies and the seeds of interest take root. Somewhere in-between pronouncements of right and wrong, good and evil, sane and insane, appropriate and not-so, you’ll find The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories [Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill].

It’s that in-between voice, those in-between feelings, and that shaky middle ground of doubt, failing confidences and sad-funny revelations where Almond blossoms. Author of the story collection, My Life In Heavy Metal and the best-selling non-fiction celebration of sweets, Candyfreak, Almond returns with another smart, sexy group of wonderfully funny, sensitive, and possibly doomed characters ranging from a high-powered women’s magazine editor who’s been played like a deck of cards; a wealthy family that believes they’ve been abducted by space aliens and implanted with communication devices; a guilty little-league batter who accidentally grand-slammed a classmate in the head; a guy who can’t get around to reading his best friend’s novel; and many more.

Almond takes some chances in this book, especially when he dips into history and rewrites it in a sort of tribute to Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln, Arisen.” He plays with the sick fascination of celebrity in, “The Idea of Michael Jackson’s Dick,” and, while he may dance a little too close to the edge of perversity in “Skull,” he does it with enough poetry and skill to forgive a multitude of sins. But nevermind the literary skill—these are good stories—rich, entertaining, and resonating with the reader long after the book is closed. File Steve Almond somewhere in-between ‘Great’ and ‘Genius.’

 

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