Book Review: Steve Almond, “Bad Stories”
My urgent advice to anyone who, like me, was stunned, outraged and disoriented by the 2016 election of Donald Trump as president: Read Steve Almond’s “Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to our Country.”
Steve Almond, the author of nine books of fiction and nonfiction, and a slew of DIY books with varied subjects, served as the final judge of Philadelphia Stories’ 2011 Marguerite McGlinn national fiction contest and was keynote speaker for that year’s Push to Publish conference.
Leslie (first place winner of the Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction)
Michael leans over to flick off the heat, catching a whiff of Rick’s half-eaten apple in the cup holder. He had thought the fling with Rick would last maybe a night or two, a week at most. Fifteen months later, they are driving home to see Michael’s ex-wife, Leslie, who is throwing herself an end-of-life [...]
Sugar Mountain (second place winner of the Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction)
When we first moved to Bellaire, my mom thought that my soon-to-be stepsister Brooke and I were eating “healthy” to get “bridesmaid ready.” Brooke crossed off the days until our parents’ wedding on a kitten calendar that hung in the kitchen. She did this because it endeared her to my mother.
Windmills, The Boys (third place winner of the Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction)
The boys drown in the pond on Myrtle Dag’s property. Windmills, the two of them, arms and rocks and driftwood and pinecones painting the water with rings and diagrams and dusk, and then the postures of dare, pulleys for shoulders, rope for arms, run farther and throw farther, hoot and shout and leap, catch the [...]
It was mid-summer, 1972, when I was 12 years old, that my parents sold our small row home on Clarion Street in South Philadelphia. They bought a finer row home in a suburban development dubbed Briarcliff, which rested in the Delaware County town of Glenolden.
Pure as stars swimming through wet winter sky,
I whistle when I drive my car—”Hava Nagila,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,”
Years after your death a magazine emailed: “We want you back, Viola.”
two bodies resting two bodies at rest, faces to the light,
On her 63rd birthday, Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to survive a barrel ride over Niagara Falls. When asked, she later said, “I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces, than make another trip over the Fall.”
When I Look Like My Father It Makes My Mother Cry
I give up on wrestling my hair into a limp, submissive, dead-straight
In your sailor hat and peacoat, you cross the asphalt and see what you thought was your home is an old wooden boat.
Some Thoughts on the Fickleness of Publishing
Every year I have the honor of choosing the finalists for the Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction. I’ve been doing this as long as we’ve been running the contest, and despite the fact that it always seems to fall during my vacation, it’s something that I always look forward to. If nothing else, it is [...]