By Jeff Labrecque
Updated April 22, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Alex Mindt’s adventurous spirit — he’s lived all across the U.S., working jobs from truck driver to strawberry picker — illuminates Male of the Species, his diverse story collection. A Texas teacher defies a football-mad town by flunking the star tailback. An impressionable 12-year-old learns that his father’s hunting prowess pales in comparison to his storytelling. An upstanding dentist is driven to blackmail by his son’s embarrassing public art stunts. ”Some people find an inexplicable joy in suffering,” Mindt writes in ”Karrooo.” Here, he also perfects the tragic poetry of dreams deflated by the weight of the real world. A