Don't just read words -- read good words, accurate and specific, tasty and gratifying and placed in sequences that make you shake your head in disbelief that anyone could possibly have ever used those words in sentences other than the ones on the page in front of you. You certainly won't find that here; but check out Booksmith tonight, Modern Times tomorrow, and 826 Valencia on Monday for that snake-charmer of the English language, Steve Almond.

Back in terrifying 1999, when we were flopping toward what would turn out to be an utterly embarrassing degree (film!) we were lucky enough to take Steve's short story class. We couldn't decide whether to be smitten with him for his demanding workshop rules (with a breathtaking firmness, authors were forbidden from speaking), or for his periodic distribution of obscure candies, or for his use of the word "stentorian" to describe an angry swan, or for his stories about lounging with supple friends when he was a student at Berkeley and once drinking human blood, or for his chest hair. And then one day in a workshop, he said of a passage that we had nervously written, "I think we'd all sign off on that," and, well, that was THAT.

But enough about our sad little memories of happier times. Steve's new book is called "Not That You Asked", and here's a passage to tide you over until his upcoming SF appearances:

My girlfriend scoffed. The wax had to be hot. She regularly waxed her own legs. And, as she had informed me regally, she had had her "twat" waxed—presumably for my benefit—on numerous occasions, so anything I might have to say about pain held no sway with her. Indeed, the process was already appealing to her sadism in profound and unwholesome ways.