Now 35 and a creative writing teacher at Boston College, Almond began flirting with fiction in his spare time in 1994 while working as a staff reporter at the alternative newsweekly Miami New Times (owned by the company that publishes SF Weekly). "[Journalism] is the best training in the world," he contends. "You hear people's rhythms, the way they speak, their intonations -- and the way that certain stories come out the way that they didn't even mean to come out."
With the exception of the contemplative "Among the Ik," the stories in Heavy Metal radiate an almost palpable throb, often whipped by up-to-the-nanosecond lingo; one, "Geek Player, Love Slayer," virtually hyperventilates, as Almond chronicles inner-office lust and coyly toys with the narrator's identity.
If Almond marches his protagonists through relentless relationship breakdowns, he undergirds their fates with a glimmer of hope, usually filtered through the distorting prism of memory. "I'm fascinated by the idea of the past as a receptacle of regrets," he notes. "You love somebody way more after you've been with them, because you just choose out those moments that suggest how beautiful they were and how kind and how sweet and devoted, and you ignore what it was really like. ... [Y]ou forget that you were restless and bored and it wasn't right."