BASS 2010 – Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched by Steve Almond

My latest project, to read and comment on all 20 BASS 2010 stories. And why not start this blog, this project, with the superhero of the Pantheon of Writers, the Rockstar of Flash himself, and tell him what’s wrong with his story. If you’re going to be stupid, be really stupid, that’s my new motto.

Ok, I loved this story until it got to the poker game itself. I think that’s because I’ve always been content-driven, and I was interested in the interaction between patient and therapist more than the poker game. Also, I was pretty sure what was going to happen in the game, and I’m surprised that I wasn’t surprised. I enjoyed the way the therapist kept coming up with excuses for his actions, like a good little addict, nice rationalizations – teach the patient a lesson,  that was my favorite. The game itself, damn, I was loving these characters and then you throw cards at me? I didn’t care about the cards! Maybe that’s because I don’t know poker and I’m not interested in learning about it. But even without knowing what the cards meant, I knew what was happening, so that’s a really good thing he did there. this is a story I’m going to read again, I’m interested in level of detail, and in how he slipped in backstory and internal thought, my bete noirs. Overall I give it a 9 but that’s probably because I’ve been falling in love with Steve Almond lately. When I fall out of love I’ll probably give it a 7.5. Part of the problem is, “what’s at stake”, ok, maybe his marriage, but $50,000 isn’t all that much for  a shrink who makes that on one patient in one year. It’s fascinating because he becomes the patient who has to pay, and I guess that’s the point, he got the therapy in one afternoon instead of weekly but he still gets to pay the full amount. Hmmm.  Make that an 8 after my crush subsides.

12 responses to “BASS 2010 – Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched by Steve Almond

  1. Pingback: Steve Almond: The Evil B. B. Chow and Other Stories « A Just Recompense

  2. I am a poker player and found the poker narrative exquisite. Dead nuts on. I didn’t guess the outcome, though after I finished I was a bit embarrassed that I didn’t. Who cares? It was a delightful read.

    • Hi, Steve, thank you for playing!

      I recently participated in an online discussion of this story, and the poker players agreed the card sequence was great – someone thought it was out of a movie called “The Cincinnati Kid” which is why the doctor’s son kept calling him The Cisco Kid, but I’m in the dark on that one.

  3. Steve Almond read excerpts of this story tonight at Newtonville Books in Newton, MA. Sam Lipsyte also read excerpts from “The Ask”. I managed to snap a couple of photos of them tonight in case you’re interested!

    It’s time to cut the cords. You’ve been at it for so long and look what it got you. Quit it. You’ve been staring at a sentence, and correctly spelled words are beginning to look wrong and alien and out of place. Quit it. You’ve been working on a children’
      • Yes, he’s really good.

        If I remember correctly, the first time I saw him in person might be in December 2009 when he was at Harvard Book Store to promote This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey, which was printed there on its bookmaking Espresso machine.

        Interestingly, PBS (I think) has a video of his “lecture” at that event here:

        The video takes FOREVER to load. It’s an hour long or so. This morning it didn’t start playing the video until after I clicked on the Download button and saved the audio file version.

      • Its bookmaking Espresso machine? Is that an Espresso machine that also makes books? Talk about multitasking! Or is it a brand? Yes, I really am that stupid. I’m on dial-up, so any video takes forever to load – sounds like this one could take a week – but I sometimes get to a high-speed connection and I’ll make sure to see it, sounds terrific! Thank you!

        I’ve only been to a few readings ever, maybe four, and they’ve all been pretty boring. Most recent was Ron Currie Jr. reading from Everything Matters (he’s a Maine native so he visits our local Fiercely Independent bookstore once a year). But I’ve never seen anyone print a book on an Espresso machine! Hah! Sorry, that just cracks me up. I love that teeny tiny book, btw, carry it with me, so when I’m stuck waiting for busses or in line or whatever I have something to amuse myself with. It’s terrific, both as a writing book and as a flash book. Oh, reminds me, Zin says you’re now a member of the Flash Factory.

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  5. Pingback: BASS 2010 – Final Thoughts, and what’s next: 2011 PEN/O.Henry Prize Stories « A Just Recompense

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