Share for friends:

The Evil B.B. Chow And Other Stories (2006)

The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories (2006)

Book Info

3.62 of 5 Votes: 3
Your rating
1565125290 (ISBN13: 9781565125292)
algonquin books

About book The Evil B.B. Chow And Other Stories (2006)

Should Steve Almond bother you? Should you find it condescending that he’s got a reading comprehension test on his website? Should you get the icks from Almond’s writing about teaching the sexy, sexed-up female students in a writing workshop very much resembling his own at Boston College? Should you down some ipecac because his most assured writing in The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories is in a story called “The Idea of Michael Jackson’s Dick”?Ugh, yes. Steve, you have freaked us out.But what’s especially bothersome is the writing in B.B. Chow is technically good. It’s measured. It’s pointed. It’s—well, it’s like this passage from a story about a woman with a crush on a computer repairman, “Wired for Life”:At the word warranty, Charlie shied away. His eyes welled into little pools of sullenness. October, he said. Janie nudged her boobs against the glass counter. The receipt says 90 days. Charlie smiled miserably. He did not look at Janie, nor especially at her boobs, but carried the adapter with its cord dragging behind and set it down on his worktable and disappeared into the back of the shop. He returned with his spool of solder and hunkered down before his sadder [sic] gun while Janie pretended not to notice. There was a delicious, excruciating aspect to the tableau.I didn’t know pro writers were allowed to use the word boobs! It’s fantastic! We finally have a word for those megastructures on the cover of Maxim, Stuff, and FHM, for those neat balloons of fat (to be generous) that are the precursor of one’s being punched by one’s girlfriend! I had had to use the cocophonous term breasts. Or bosoms. Or nothing at all. Boobs! Neat! Thanks, Steve; quoting your best writing in your new collection gives me permission to talk about boobs without fear of retribution. You’ve also liberated bestiality (in “Appropriate Sex”), President-on-abolitionist action (in “Lincoln, Arisen”), and the idea of Michael Jackson’s dick (in “The Idea of Michael Jackson’s Dick”) as fruitful writing topics. They’re like new veins of gold to all writers. Let the rush begin.Ok. Yeah. The serious part.We’re talking medium-abuse here. A book is one medium, like television, graffiti, or a girlfriend’s left hook (don’t you dare say it can’t carry a message). Books are expensive. They demand expensive writing to justify the cost of paying the sponsoring editor, the acquisitions editor, the editorial assistant, the cover designer, the rights assistant, the manufacturer, the packager, the copyeditor, the UPS guy, the Barnes and Noble salesperson, and eventually the author, instead of, say, using that money and energy to, say, feed people. With the exception of “I Am as I Am” and “Larsen’s Novel,” a fine piece about the obligations between grown men, the stories in The Evil B.B. Chow are cheap. They are arrived at cheaply and leave the reader feeling cheaper. But, of course, saying this book would be better placed in a cheap medium like the Internet is like saying Hollywood shouldn’t have remade The In-Laws: Hollywood shouldn’t have, but hey, the money’s there, and they have mouths to feed too. It’s a frustrating thing, this—we know Almond can write well. His culinary piece in the current issue of Tin House so captured the care and humor in cooking a favorite meal for friends that I wondered if all that time I spent watching “Great Chefs” in college would have been better spent reading cooking magazines.The Evil B.B. Chow is entertaining in its cheap way (boobs!). But Almond cribs simultaneously from that of Esquire and Toby Wolff—two types of writing many readers enjoy but which should never end up on the same page. He should pick one or the other at one time, and so should you.

This is a humorous collection that deals with a wide set of issues like love, death, and politics, with some historical fiction thrown in. Almond’s use of slang and colloquialism in the narrative give the stories a sense of accessibility, but left this reader feeling there is something missing from the narrative, some important emotional element. Not all of the stories feel this way; some are powerful and linger in the mind after reading them. The story, “I am as I am,” is one of these, a coming of age story about a boy who accidentally kills another boy with a bat. And there is also “Summer, As in Love,” a tender and sad love story.The language in these stories is more straightforward, less stylized, less wanting to be cool, which lend the narrative a serious hue that make the story wonderful. This decision makes me ponder the use of slang, witty and outlandish language in stories, and also for that matter, the easy talkative tone that many stories these days take. For the most part, if used in concert with a serious subject, this kind of language is amazing. I can think of Lorrie Moore as an example and Junot Diaz, whose street talk offers insight into the desperation of character or heighten the neurosis another character feels. That is not to say that witty language or clever descriptions are not necessary in a piece of serious work, but it needs to be balanced with the emotional weight of the story, which in my opinion, Almond fears getting next to. In the title story, a woman slowly allows herself to fall in love, only to find out she’s been conned into loving the person, and then dumped. What makes the story entertaining is the narrator’s almost indifference to her lacking love life. When B.B. Chow apologizes for asking about her divorce, she thinks, “I don’t feel especially disappointed, though. I was married to a man who couldn’t operate a washing machine. I got out. The end.” It is this kind of apathy that drives the story along. She slowly succumbs to B.B. Chow’s odd emotional sensitivity (he’s a doctor who cries), even despite his shortcomings, “Sadly, B.B. is not much of a kisser. He presses too hard, and he doesn’t know how to modulate the whole mouth-opening-tongue-moving-forward thing.” You accept the tone, and expect the story to finish on this note. That is why when she finally realizes B.B.’s been using the same lines on her as he has with other women, you expect a farcical remark that would show her anger and disappointment, instead of the serious prose that seems to come out of nowhere. “I’m weary of moving through life in this way, punished for my capabilities, betrayed by the glib promises of love. I’m weary of managing these disappointments. I’m weary of my body’s gruesome tick. And I’m weary of telling women it can be different.”I’m sorry, but boo hoo. If we had any clue that these were things she thought about or were hinted at, even from the narrator (who is first person), the weight of them would truly be felt. The thing is, the stories feel like the author is holding back, but they’re still funny, full of great sentences like this one, “Self-deception, I’d told them, in my profound deeply feeling teacher voice, is the only worthy enemy.”I just wish there was more than funny.

Do You like book The Evil B.B. Chow And Other Stories (2006)?

I had the great pleasure of hearing Steve Almond read a slightly abridged version of his story "Appropriate Sex" from this collection and promptly decided I must jump into his stories headfirst. Overall, I was not disappointed.The short stories in this book are heartbreaking, some in beauty and others in despair. Almond's humor and ability to push the reader right to the edge keep these stories from becoming maudlin, particularly when we are forced to look inside ourselves through the lens of his characters.The title story is my favorite and the one that feels the most complete to me. I felt that several of the stories went on for a beat longer than was needed, causing their power to be blunted at the very end.In addition to the title story, I especially liked "Lincoln, Arisen" which has some of the most startling and beautiful lines I've read anywhere. Only Steve Almond could envision a mystical relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It's a story that reads like poetry - not a wasted word or unfocused image."The Problem of Human Consumption" is another story that sticks with me from this collection. After thirteen years, a father and daughter continue to dance their lives around loss, their actions as mundane and inexplicable as the death they have never discussed. It is haunting.Some of the stories didn't work as well for me. "The Soul Molecule" felt too insubstantial, as if it was afraid to dig deeper into the story of a family who believes they've been abducted by aliens for the benefit of humankind. "Larsen's Novel," on the other hand, was too drawn out to hold my interest all the way through and I found myself trying to skim forward. The final story in the collection, "Skull," is the most outrageous, although it is really about the simple need that everyone has to be loved and accepted for who they are. I liked this story, but I'm sure there are plenty of readers who would be very put off by the details within.I enjoyed this collection of stories, but I will say that having heard Steve Almond read one of them aloud may have played a crucial part in my enjoyment of the book as a whole. He is an amazing reader, and being able to imagine his voice as I read each story added a dimension that I might otherwise have missed.

not as good as "my life in heavy metal", his last collection of short stories. i'm gonna go ahead and say these are mediocre with a few pretty good stories and should probably be avoided, unless you're a hardcore steve almond fan. a fair dose of sex as is characteristic, and too many stories that take place surrounding university life. i really wonder how much of steve almond's skyrocketing popularity is tied to the fact that he writes a lot about sex for an audience of undersexed porn-denied lit-readers.
—Rachel Cassandra

another blank. i think this is a collection of short stories. i don't remember much beyond that. i will say that i have read some other steve almond stuff, & he's very competent & often very funny. i believe he teaches writing at boston college. so this book is most likely a collection of short stories that are written competently & designed to be mildly funny, & i seem to also recall that they are a little off-kilter in a poor-man's-jonathan-sfaran-foer-school-of-weird-characters way. you know? other than that, i retain nothing. possibly the evil b.b. chow of the titular story sells VCRs. but i might totally be thinking of that stephen king book where the kid buys a VCR that tapes the next day's news & accidentally discovers that he is responsible for the end of the world so he kills himself or something. good times.

download or read online

Read Online

Write Review

(Review will shown on site after approval)

Other books by author Steve Almond

Other books in category Horror