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God Bless America: Stories

Steve Almond

Lookout Books
978-0-9845922-3-4
$17.95 paperback
5 ½ x 8 ½  
224 pages
October 2011

From a "gifted storyteller" who delivers "always enjoyable, often hysterical stories" (New York Times Book Review) comes a meditation on the American Dream and its discontents. In his most ambitious collection yet, Steve Almond offers a comic and forlorn portrait of these United States: our lust for fame, our racial tensions, the toll of perpetual war, and the pursuit of romantic happiness.

In the exuberant title story, a hapless would-be actor, desperate to escape the drudgery of his existence, lands the role of a lifetime. In "Donkey Greedy, DOnkey Gets Punched," reprinted in Best American Short Stories, a psychoanalyst with a secret gambling addiction squares off over the poker table against a damaged ex-patient. In "First Date Back, " a young woman becomes the target of a traumatized soldier's misguided hopes for love. And "A Dream of Sleep," the collection's final story, presents a grief-stricken refugee who tends the graves of a forgotten cemetery, only to have his fragile peace shattered by an unwelcome visitor.

Each of these 13 stories is an urgent investigation of America's soul, its particular suffering, its injustices, its possibilities for redemption. With deft slight of hand, Almond, "a writer who knows us as well as we know ourselves" (Houston Chronicle), leavens his disappointment and outrage with a persistent hope for the men and women who inhabit his worlds. God Bless America offers us an astonishing vision of our collective fate, rendered in Almond's signature style of "precise strokes... with metaphors so original and spot-on that they read like epiphanies" (San Francisco Chronicle).

 

 

Praise:

"Steve Almond is one of our finest literary provocateurs. His stories are without equal in their beautiful terrible honesty. Stylish and finely wrought, these are tales with the force of life itself." —Junot Díaz, author of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
"God bless Steve Almond, one of our most prolific-fearless-political-hairy-intelligent-sexy-hilarious writers. He makes me shake my head with sadness one page, snort coffee out my nose the next. And he makes me care deeply about his characters, so many of them wrong in the head and right in the heart, down on their luck, but clinging to the desperate hope that the next hand of cards will turn up flush." —Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding
"Steve Almond's work is funny and beguiling and completely original." —Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate at the Stairs
"These wonderful, wickedly hilarious stories have forgiveness at their core. Steve Almond's characters and sons and fathers, inveterate gamblers, thwarted dreamers, the mothers of children gone astray, and God Bless America teaches us how to love every one of them. Almond always has an ear to the ground for 'the dumb throb, the frantic seep' of human hope, which his prose transmutes into music." —Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
"You could drop Steve Almond onto any strange planet and within days he'd beam back a story written by an insider, maybe even a native, that creeps you out it's so familiar and strange. His imagination is chameleon and ruthless, his fiction masterful right down to the sentence, the word." —Brad Watson, author of Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives
"I can't resist saying it: God bless Steve Almond. And God bless his inexhaustible imagination, compassion, and élan. This is a wonderful collection of stories, sharp-witted and big-hearted in equal measure." —Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Ms. Hemple Chronicles