Recent reading: Steve AlmondNobody writes funnier about sex than Steve Almond. In some of his stories -- the earlier ones, I suspect -- that's the whole point, frequently featuring a feckless male unable to rein in his phallus and thus following it into ridiculously bad relationships. But that's not always all: Almond has become such a master of the comedy of sexual desperation that he can use it as a device to tell other, less predictable stories. You'll want to read this collection, not so much for the title story or even the one after that (about another kind of feckless male, a widower who depended on his wife just to function) -- they're OK, and funny in a kind of sick way, but don't get put off by them from reading the others. Especially good: "How to Love a Republican" is full of wet, sloppy sex, but it is really about the utterly shameless lust for power and perversion of the political process in our 2000 presidential election (the narrator is a guy working for Bradley, the girl is an ambitious operative for McCain, scornful of Bush, but easily seduced into the Bush camp once it's clear that that's where the opportunities will be). And be sure to read "The Pass," a semiotic essay worthy of Roland Barthes (who was also a good story-teller). All but one of the stories are told from a guy's point-of-view, usually in first person. The exception is, I think, a successful representation of the same lustful desperation in a woman (maybe some woman who reads it can tell me if it sounds true; it did to me): "Geek Player, Love Slayer." Almond is really good.
Almond, Steve. My Life in Heavy Metal. New York: Grove Press, 2002.