His new book is Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life.
A couple of weeks ago I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I've been on a short story jag recently, the best sort. Anthony Doerr's new collection, The Memory Wall is astonishing. I don't think there's anyone writing better realistic fiction at the moment. He manages to write about a dazzling variety of characters -- Chinese villagers, Kansas orphans, South African fossil pimps -- in a way that makes their struggles riveting. His sentences shimmer and echo. He's the sort of writer who makes me lament my own lazy, slightly heartless decisions at the keyboard. Which is what I want, and what we should all want.Visit Steve Almond's website.
The same is true of Ben Greenman's new collection What He's Poised to Do. In the past, Greenman has sometimes used his immense cleverness and facility with the language to avoid deeper emotional engagement with his characters. But this time out he nails it, for the most part. The best stories are thrilling. Both these guys are versatile and curious writers, and they never bore.
Next up on my plate is Gina Frangello's new collection Slut Lullabies. I've read a number of her pieces in lit mags, and they are fantastic stories, fearless and sexy.
I realize that short stories are the new poetry, a genre that's moved to the margin of the margin. But they're my first and final love, and the good ones deliver the same jolt as novels. They just get to the heart of the matter a lot quicker.