My Life in Heavy Metal by Steve Almond, Seattle Times

Entertainment & the Arts: Sunday, April 28, 2002

‘My Life’ is fresh set of short tales

By Mark Lindquist
Special to The Seattle Times

This is the coolest and freshest collection of short stories I’ve read since the 1980s. While his contemporaries turn to novels and screenplays, Steve Almond has been publishing zeitgeist short fiction everywhere from Playboy to the literary journal Ploughshares.

All 12 of these stories deal with sex and regret. In the title story, David, a rock journalist in his 20s, tries to translate the adolescent ethos of rock and roll into his own love life and pays the adult price.

“Geek Player, Love Slayer,” an office romance between a female reporter and “Computer Boy,” is less successful, but still intriguingly of our time. “How did Computer Boy become the Lifeguard of our decade?” the narrator wants to know.

“Run Away My Pale Love” returns the reader to David. He’s older and courting a local in Poland. Different country, similar screw-ups: “There is a point you reach when you are just something bad that happened to someone else.”

“Moscow” is filler, a track you would skip if this were a CD. 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.

“How to Love a Republican” cranks things back up. Two political junkies pathetically destroy their attraction to each other against the backdrop of the Bush-Gore 2000 election.

The final story again features David, who is now a teacher in his 30s. David becomes involved with a 22-year-old woman and, unsurprisingly enough, screws up again. “But I am certain that you, too, have some episode in your life that lines up against this one, some mad period of transgression in which your body, your foolish body, led you toward tender ruin.”