May is "Short Story Month."
There's nothing quite like a vacation followed by two days of meetings. It's a little like whiplash, or shifting mental gears without popping the clutch, or another car related metaphor that someone who actually drove a car would know.
That's why this entry is a bit later than most. On my tour through SWEAT, I was often surprised at where the authors went with the theme - the next story being a case in point: "The Bull Rider" by Jay Dickingson. I've been to the Calgary Stampede twice in my life (when I was younger, and not aware of just how cruel to the animals much of it was), and so when the jock of this story was such a bull rider, I had more than a few mental pictures from my youth of the hyper-masculine Albertan cowboys to pull from. Oh, cowboys.
Dickingson's story is probably the tale that had the meanest punch of the anthology for me. That isn't to say it isn't sweaty and hot in all the right ways, it's more to say that the element of religious intolerance and angry self-loathing (projected onto others) was at times painful in a way that rang true.
"Phenom" by Todd Gregory follows, and I can honestly say - and my friends can back me up here - that this is the first time I have ever found baseball interesting. Ever. Where "The Bull Rider" had a dark cruelty, "Phenom" has a lightness to it alongside the passion. When a long-time fan of a baseball star sees that the man at the local bar might just be the athlete in question, courage is plucked, and a good time looms. I loved the conversation that sparked their evening together, and the final sentiment is sweet.
(Reminder: I've currently got a Goodreads giveaway for two copies of SWEAT. You can click here to enter the giveaway, the winners of which will be drawn at the end of the month.)