In ATHLETIC SHORTS, Chris Crutcher presents original short stories involving characters from his previous novels. In the book's forward, Crutcher explains, "In my travels around the country and in letters from readers, I am constantly asked what happens to certain characters in my books. So once in a while I check in" (pp. ix-x).
Each of these short stories involves a central character from a previous novel, but, while Crutcher may have intended a particular story to be a prequel or an afterward, the stories remain independent. So a person who has not read RUNNING LOOSE will still be able to understand the storyline behind IN THE TIME I GET, in which Louie Banks looks into the eyes of a friend dying of AIDS and realizes the value of time. Additionally, after getting a taste of Crutcher's novels through his short stories, readers may well be inspired to go out and acquire the novels themselves.
Athletics are the uniting theme throughout these stories, but they also give Crutcher a medium to introduce physical, mental, and emotional challenges for his characters. Sports allow a safe setting for conflict and failure, while also providing a site for characters to achieve and excel.
Thumbs Up! Award Winner, 1992
Reviewed by: Mechele R. Dillard