Steve Almond, Author . Algonquin $21.95 (248p) ISBN 978-1-56512-422-6

In this sexy, fast-paced second collection of stories, Almond, author of My Life in Heavy Metal and the nonfiction Candyfreak , takes on love and loss around the turn of the millennium, showing how average people living in big cities and university towns tackle heartbreak with humor. The title story traces the flailing love between a magazine editor and a commitment-phobic medical resident who seems too good to be true. In "Appropriate Sex," a refreshing addition to the growing genre of stories about the goings-on in undergraduate writing workshops, a writer-in-residence is treated to a parade of students who "discourse on Tristam Shandy ," seduce him and get him stoned in the same office hour. "A Happy Dream" portrays the lucky outcome of a blind date on which Kate, a bike messenger masquerading as a chimney sweep, forces Henry, a cautious sous-chef, to think on his feet. While struggling with his own recent breakup, the narrator of "Skull" listens as his friend confesses how he and his new girlfriend are finding love in unlikely ways that involve her prosthetic eye. Almond doesn't dig too deep or offer up grand theories about romantic love, but his easy, natural storytelling and consoling reminders that intimacy is awkward and messy will carry readers happily along. (Apr. 22)

Forecast: Almond scored a surprise hit with Candyfreak, his confessional tour of candy factories. This laid-back follow-up delivers more guilty pleasure and should attract—and satisfy—Almond's new fans. Author tour.

Reviewed on: 02/14/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Paperback - 233 pages - 978-1-56512-529-2
Open Ebook - 248 pages - 978-1-56512-864-4
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