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(Not That You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions Paperback – July 8, 2008
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Steve Almond is obsessed. He first offered the world a peek into his fixations in My Life in Heavy Metal, a collection of short stories throbbing with hookups, drunken kisses, failed passes, souring relationships, and, naturally, heavy metal. But Almond forever chewed the hard chocolate shell from his creamy inner obsessive with 2004's Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America--a sort of On the Road for the sugar set, documenting an epic journey through America's confectionary highways and backroads. Almond is back with (Not that You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions, a collection of autobiographical pieces covering topics as diverse as Oprah Winfrey, Kurt Vonnegut, sexual failure, and the many varieties of shame. We asked Almond just what it is about obsession that drives his work, as well is its intrinsic value in all art--low and high. --Jon Foro
The Obsession Engine
Why House of Rock with Bret Michaels could be your next novel. Or not. By Steve Almond
A close friend of mine who may or may not be my wife recently fell in love with the VH-1 reality series House of Rock. For those of you who are not hip to its charms, HoR stars Bret Michaels, the former lead singer of Poison, and a gaggle of women vying to become his soul mate. I hope you will not be shocked to learn that several of these potential soul mates are strippers. Nor do all of them appear to be virgins. My friend insists that her interest in the program is purely anthropological. But I happen to know that she spent a good portion of her adolescence listening to Eighties hair metal bands and dreaming about bedding dudes like Bret Michaels and even working, briefly, as a waitress in a topless bar. She comes by her obsession naturally, is my point. The longer I read and write, the more I come to view obsession as the essential engine of literature. I am not suggesting that my wife, er, friend should write a novel about House of Rock. (The series is, by her own description, a kind of pulp novel already--histrionic, predictable, crushingly squalid.) What Im suggesting is that her allegiance to the program identifies essential fears and desires within her, ones which embarrass her quite robustly and therefore belong in the novel she hopes to write. To take this a step further: Im not interested in writing that isnt obsessive. Who is? Were all drama queens in the end. We all come to stories with two basic questions: Who do I care about? And What do they care about? As long as our hero, or heroine, cares deeply about something (i.e. is obsessed), and as long as theyre willing to tell us their own twisted version of the truth, well come along for the ride. Dont believe me? Let me call to the stand my star witness, Humbert Humbert. Read more...
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The publisher sent me a free advance softcover proof last month, and I still bought a new hardcover the day it was officially released. If you knew how frugal (read: cheap) I am, you'd understand how remarkable this is.
Why shell out my hard-earned for a book I've already read and gotten for free? Because I wanted to send Random House the message that Steve Almond is a huge talent, the real deal, and they better keep publishing him.
So "enjoyed" is kind of a weak verb.
I love this book, is what I'm saying.
I love that Almond takes aim at the easy targets -- Oprah, Fox News, Condi, Reality TV -- in fresh, hilarious ways, but places himself in the crosshairs more than anyone. I love that his long fanboy tribute to Kurt Vonnegut, "Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt," nails exactly why *I've* "crush[ed] on Kurt Vonnegut" for more than half of my life.
I love that no matter what subject he's tackling -- fake breasts, masturbation, unplanned fatherhood, body waxing, blog wars -- Almond surprises and delights and makes me think while I'm laughing and laugh while I'm thinking.
Clearly I've lost all objectivity with this book. Let me at least attempt to inject a little balance by enlisting the help of four friends. The quotations below are from people I either loaned the book to or bought the book for. None of them actually know I'm quoting them on Amazon, but I don't think they'll mind (not that I asked).
Here are their actual reactions:
Martha (via e-mail, two days after I loaned her my advance copy): "Steve Almond is my new favorite author. Loved it. Love LOVE LOVE LOVED it. Can't wait to buy a copy. Wonderful recommendation.Read more ›
I live in Boston and remember all the headlines of when Steve resigned from Boston College to protest Condi Rice speaking there. I remember arch conservative Gerry Callahan of the sports station WEEI calling Steve a wingnut. It was great to hear Steve's side of the entire mess in another essay here, and he offers a fairly damning portrayal of the idiocy of cable political talk shows such as Hannity & Colmes.
I was often reading this in my living room, with my wife and kids nearby, and they kept asking me what was making me laugh so hard, so I had to read a number of passages out loud (or at least the G-rated ones, my kids are in elementary school) for their sake. They got a good chuckle out of a number of sections, such as Steve's misuse of a bulb syringe when he's trying to clear mucus from his baby's nose. ("Because of a basic misunderstanding of physics, and specifically the concept of suction, I failed to deflate the bulb before insertion. Instead, I blow air UP the baby's nose.") Of course, then he is sure he's given his poor little newborn some sort of aneurysm.Read more ›
really fine flavor. This is a must-read, folks. Enjoy it!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Curiously these musings of a 40-year-old sophomore get more and better reviews than his fiction. Guess I'll give that a missPublished 17 months ago by Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso'
Hilarious, smart, and thought provoking. I do not like to read, but couldn't put this one down. Very fun!!Published 19 months ago by Anthony Uttariello
These stories are fast paced,funny,and you want to keep on reading.
He's great with words and from political activism to a water source in a hot tub.
It's an enjoyment.
This may be the first Steve Almond I've read, but it definitely won't be the last! (I just received "My Life in Heavy Metal" yesterday and I'm starting it tonight. Read morePublished on January 14, 2014 by litchick
This collection is pushcartian Klosterman dribble - some of it may be funny to the Ira Glass crowd, maybe there's some humor and political strength to some few passages, but the... Read morePublished on July 26, 2012 by GlobalChangeSupercenter5
If you are having hesitations about buying the book - add to cart right now and don't look back. If fact, you may as well buy another of his books while you are at it.Published on April 13, 2012 by JCS
A little bit naughty, a lot endearing, and all Almond...Steve Almond, that is. Rarely do you find writing on "taboo" topics to be so genuine. Read morePublished on April 3, 2012 by JillS in the Hub
I bought based on the reviews by others but was more than disappointed, I was disgusted. His stupid imagined letters to Oprah, are so preteen, one of the oldest worn out attempts... Read morePublished on December 19, 2011 by Roy Berger