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(Not That You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2008

    A reviewer

    The cover flap of ¿'Not That You Asked'¿ speculates whether Steve Almond was raised by wolves. This may explain why many of the essays in this book are disarmingly honest, and especially those taken from his youth, experiences nobody would dare ask about because they¿re way too personal. Particularly moving was the essay about Lobster Thai Pad, which isn¿t so much about food as about friendship. In comparison to his earlier books, Almond occasionally sheds more heat than light in this collection that in places seems unworthy of his tremendous talent. The epistolary discourse with Oprah Winfrey is one example. While Jonathan Franzen¿s rejection of his Oprah selection brought to mind the Groucho Marx quote, ¿I don¿t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member,¿ Almond¿s preemptive strike on Oprah seems as inscrutable as our government¿s reasons for invading Iraq. When not ranting, exploiting and obsessing, the book often feels contrived. Almond goes to great lengths to compare himself to Kurt Vonnegut, quoting from ¿Slaughterhouse Five,¿ ¿It¿s always the men against the women, with the men only pretending to fight among themselves¿¿ And yet, these essays are so full of condescending portrayals of women¿including not only Oprah, but Condoleezza Rice, Joyce Carol Oates, an Associated Press reporter, reality television staffers and ex-girlfriends¿ that I suspect Almond may be hiding a grudge behind Vonnegut¿s reputation. Throughout the book, Almond portrays women sympathetically only when they say nice things about Vonnegut or himself. I didn¿t dare ask because I wanted to believe Almond was better than that. As to the book¿s virtues, there¿s something for just about everybody here, with the exception of Fox News fans and, uh, Mormons 'an allusion to Mitt Romney, perhaps?'. The essay on Almond¿s disappointing experience with the Boston Red Sox is timely for Colorado Rockies fans.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2009

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    Posted January 28, 2010

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