First of all, I have to say, I got spanked today for spending most of my
free time reading books when I should be looking for a job. And I’m more than a little pissed that the book I’ve spent all my time reading lately turned out to be completely underwhelming.
Before October, I’d never read anything by Steve Almond, but then Dale assigned us one of his stories in the kick-ass, everyone should read it Best of Tin House. I loved the story. It was funny and dirty and sorta sad — most everything I love in a short story.
I enjoyed the story so much that I went in search of one Almond’s collection. I chose the one with the best title, My Life in Heavy Metal. Because, really, who doesn’t love Heavy Metal?
Sadly, I didn’t love the book. It was kind of, well, meh. It was a lot more of the dirty and not enough of the sad and funny. There was a lot of the pathetic and amusing, but none of the stories seemed to move to beyond a sort of pedestrian sentimentality and get to any real emotion. The whole collection felt kind of tired and done. Which is ironic because one of the blurbs bragged about how it was “the freshest blah blah blah” someone has read in forever.
Well, except for the story “How to Love a Republican” that story kicked a little bit of ass about a Republican and a Democrat who fall in love during the 2000 presidential election. Maybe you have to be a bit of poli sci wonk to dig it, but I loved the way the relationship was mirrored in the mess of the election. Wonk Wonk Wonk.
Anyway, was so frustrated by the mediocrity that I turned to the blurbs to see what I had gotten myself into and who I could blame for it. Turns out My Life in Heavy Metal was Almond’s first collection. So I decided to cut him a little slack because I know he’s capable of writing stories I really dig, it just looks like it might have taken him a little time to find his groove. I look forward to reading another collection to see if maybe I can rediscover the magic I found in that first short story.