Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country
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About the Author
It's a rare writer who has the power to make one aware in every paragraph of the moral necessity of literature, but in Bad Stories, Steve Almond has done just that. With fierce intelligence, moving candor, and dazzling insight, Almond draws on everything from The Grapes of Wrath to the voting practices of his babysitter to dismantle the false narratives about American democracy that got us into the political pickle we're in. I was enlightened and spellbound by Bad Stories, outraged and consoled. This is a profound and essential book for all time, but especially for now.
--Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
Steve Almond['s]...book is notable not so much for advancing new ideas but for synthesizing almost every major argument about what ails our country--including, among much else, racism, xenophobia and rampant economic inequality--and for offering a response to each. Almond is staunchly progressive, and the finished product, if often one-sided, nevertheless combines 'statistical data, personal anecdote, cultural criticism, literary analysis, and when called for, outright intellectual theft' into a whole that is lively, stimulating and pleasantly discursive ... Almond is an excellent prose stylist, and his book is a welcome change of pace from its mostly wonky competitors, though its reliance on literary models can induce the occasional eye roll ... And while his digressive style is one of the book's greatest pleasures, it also makes it difficult to draw any single, unified conclusion from these essays--beyond, perhaps, the general belief that we should take participatory democracy more seriously and go about it with a bit more empathy.
--Chris Carroll, Washington Post
Taking storytelling as a basic human need, Almond's commendable goal is to make room for the invention of better stories that draw on humanity's finer instincts: generosity over greed, patience or curiosity over blind loyalty or rage. Notwithstanding the author's own occasional one-sidedness, especially in too-pat psychologizing of Clinton opponents and Trump supporters, these essays unfold some timely insights and avenues into the despair stalking American public life.
Bad Stories is a huge, readable 237-page revelation of profound insights gleaned from connecting dots that we-the-people largely prefer not to see.
--Betsy Robinson, Notes from a Crusty Seeker
With the same biting wit that marks Almond's previous books of social criticism ... he casts equal blame on both the left and the right, bitingly criticizing, for example, liberal comedians such as Jon Stewart and Bill Maher for making light of Trump while basking in their glowing reviews. Almond holds up literature as a guide through America's age-old moral dilemmas and finds hope for his country in family, forgiveness, and political resistance.
--Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist Online