Ever since One of These Things is Not Like the Other came into my life (and I have read it at least four times), I became a fan of Scott’s. Love Hard is one of the two short story collections I’ve been waiting for this year (the other being Sean Meriwether’s The Silent Hustler), and it did not disappoint.
Scott’s writing is all word-muscle – lean, fluid and kinetic with absolutely no wasted motion whether he’s working in fiction or those terrific little essay-punches he hits you with like “Everclear,” which takes on the band and the beverage with equal ease or “EuroTex,” a sharply observed analysis of his dichomatic relationship with both Texas and Europe. And then he effortlessly blends fiction and journaling in something like “It’s Not You,” a skillful look at the dissolution of a relationship that never really was.
It comes as no surprise to anyone who’s ever read him that Scott’s stock-in-trade is the melding of total opposites, and nearly everything in this collection reinforces that. From the title character of “New Wave Skinhead Flight Attendant” to the collision of past and present in “Little Armenia,” Scott bends, shapes and folds his realities into new oragami relationship configurations.
Among my favorites are “Gas Works Park,” a great story that takes the concept of lovers and their private language to a typically Scott extreme, “Alphonse,” a colorfully short gay bar episode, and the aforementioned “Little Armenia,” which spins you around and around from then to now and then expects you to come out and pin the tail on the donkey.
But perhaps my favorite – not the least because of a personal connection – is “Get on Your Bikes and Ride!,” which takes on chubby-chasing fetishism with Scott drollery. Its main character is an overweight gym recruiter, a beautiful contradiction in and of itself, and what happens when he is fetishised by one of his clients. The personal connection? Ah yes – this appeared in a collection called Law of Desire: Tales of Gay Male Lust and Obsession, edited by Greg Wharton and Ian Philips, which also contains my first published short story,“Love, Sex and Death on the Daily Commute”.
I couldn’t have asked for better company.
Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler