Nancy Miller
April 11, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Sa-weet! In his second story collection, The Evil B.B. Chow, the author of last year’s nonfiction hit Candyfreak delivers a lively Whitman’s Sampler of off-beat tales worth savoring — if you don’t devour the entire dozen in one sitting. Steve Almond joyfully darts from a tart sketch of pomo romance (”The Evil B.B. Chow”) to a crushing (quite literally) coming-of-age story (”I Am as I Am”) to a bittersweet weepie (”Summer, as in Love”) without losing his dark, rich wit. There are a few sour patches: A lewdly titled rant about a now-on-trial pop star (”The Idea of Michael Jackson’s D—”) is already stale, while a satirical faux-mance between Abe Lincoln and Frederick Douglass (”Lincoln, Arisen”) is just plain tasteless.

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