WINNER, PATERSON FICTION PRIZE
FINALIST, FOREWORD BOOK OF THE YEAR
OUTSTANDING COLLECTION, THE STORY PRIZE
LONGLIST, FRANK O’CONNOR INTERNATIONAL STORY PRIZE
BRONZE MEDALIST, INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER
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 thirteen stories is an urgent investigation of America’s soul, its particular suffering, its injustices, its possibilities for redemption. With deft sleight 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).
“Steve Almond’s amazing versatility, inner psychological landscapes, and sardonic humor prove he is one of the outstanding short story writers of his generation.” —Paterson Fiction Prize
“A comic masterpiece . . . Almond’s deft touch with both comedy and tragedy make this a memorable and well-crafted collection.” —Library Journal
“Equal parts comedy and profundity, Almond’s stories are the kind one sits back and revels in.” —Foreword
“Like William Carlos Williams, Almond is writing in the American grain, but the wood has become so warped that this collection about disaffected characters who can barely articulate their needs and fears defines a new American gothic.” —Publishers Weekly
“God Bless America showcases Almond’s fascination with the dark underbelly of American life. Sometimes he laughs at it; sometimes he stares directly into the abyss and produces something stunning. What’s obvious is that Almond creatively inhabits the confused soul of modern American life. Whether he finds comedy or tragedy there, the result is provocative and memorable.” —Boston Globe
“Steve Almond's work is funny and beguiling and completely original.” —Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate at the Stairs
“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 Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao