San Francisco writer Dodie Bellamy's new collection Pink Steam (Suspect Thoughts Press) is billed as "fiction/essay/memoir" on the back jacket, but the copyright page states "This book is a work of fiction." Which is it? Who cares! Whatever it is, it's a blast. Bellamy, whose mind-bending 1998 novel, The Letters of Mina Harker, landed her on the sexy, pomo edge of the literary map, calls the book a "fractured autobiography." Its 22 previously published pieces, mostly set in San Francisco and Chicago (and Hammond, Indiana, where Bellamy grew up), include everything from erotic prose poems and reflections on failed relationships to cockeyed commentary on popular movies. Her characters are often outsiders looking for a place to fit in, looking for friends. But though sometimes sad or tragic, Pink Steam isn't a downer. Bellamy has a great sense of humor, and it's fun to sit in on her jaunts around Chicago: the hookers at the Golden Nugget, Carson Pirie Scott (the only place to buy White Shoulders perfume), the New Town porn shops, and films at Facets. My favorite piece is "Spew Forth," a hilarious story with scenes involving an "enlightened soul" from Venus, a holistic therapist, and some raunchy demon sex. That one's fiction for sure--I hope. Bellamy will read from Pink Steam at 7 PM on Sunday, August 8, at Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee, 773-862-4882.