Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories

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Overview

These six powerful short stories chronicle bits of the lives of characters, major and minor, who have walked the rugged terrain of Chris Crutcher's earlier works. They also introduce some new and unforgettable personalities who may well be heard from again in future books. As with all Crutcher's work, these are stories about athletes, and yet they are not sports stories. They are tales of love and death, bigotry and heroism, of real people doing their best even when that best isn't very good. Crutcher's ...
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Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories

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Overview

These six powerful short stories chronicle bits of the lives of characters, major and minor, who have walked the rugged terrain of Chris Crutcher's earlier works. They also introduce some new and unforgettable personalities who may well be heard from again in future books. As with all Crutcher's work, these are stories about athletes, and yet they are not sports stories. They are tales of love and death, bigotry and heroism, of real people doing their best even when that best isn't very good. Crutcher's straightforward style and total honesty have earned him an admiring audience and made readers of many nonreaders.

A collection of short stories featuring characters from earlier books by Chris Crutcher.

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Editorial Reviews

The Horn Book (starred review)
“The characterizations are powerfully drawn, and the dialogue is quick and scorching.”
Horn Book
One need not have read Crutcher's novels to appreciate the young men within these pages. They stand proudly on the own.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
If the stereotype of the ``bonehead jock'' is ever to be defeated, it will be at Crutcher's hands. In these six short stories, he and his athlete protagonists take on such weighty issues as racism, homophobia, sexism and the teenager's essential task of coming to terms with his parents. At the same time the author makes the world of sports compelling enough to engage even the most sedentary readers. Three of the stories revolve around characters featured in Crutcher's The Crazy Horse Electric Game , including the memorable eccentric known as Telephone Man. Also starring in his own story is Lionel Serbousek, the orphaned artist and swimmer of Stotan! In the book's final tale, Louie Banks (from Running Loose ) is befriended by a young man with AIDS and must cope once again with the untimely death of a loved one. The stories' locales--mostly small towns in Montana and Idaho--are vividly evoked, and make a satisfying change from the well-known big cities and bland suburbs where so many YA novels are set. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Crutcher is a sports translator, transforming sports into an idiom for life, making the spirit and power of sports understandable to enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts. For most of his growing up, sports were Crutcher's life. Athletic Shorts is a collection of short stories which feature some of Crutcher's former protagonists in new stories and fascinating new characters in an abundance of sports settings.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 UpThe stereotype of jocks as insensitive dullards is challenged in stories that grapple with the big questions of life as well as with athletic prowess, told with good-natured aplomb and gritty honesty. Sept. 1991
The Horn Book (starred review)
“The characterizations are powerfully drawn, and the dialogue is quick and scorching.”
The Horn Book
"The characterizations are powerfully drawn, and the dialogue is quick and scorching."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688108168
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1991
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Crutcher has written nine critically acclaimed novels, an autobiography, and two collections of short stories. Drawing on his experience as a family therapist and child protection specialist, Crutcher writes honestly about real issues facing teenagers today: making it through school, competing in sports, handling rejection and failure, and dealing with parents. He has won three lifetime achievement awards for the body of his work: the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the ALAN Award, and the NCTE National Intellectual Freedom Award. Chris Crutcher lives in Spokane, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

A Brief Moment
in the Life of
Angus Bethune

Sometimes, when I stand back and take a good look, I think my parents are ambassadors from hell. Two of them, at least, the biological ones, the big ones.

Four parents are what I have altogether, not unlike a whole lot of other kids. But quite unlike a whole lot of other kids, there ain't a hetero among 'em. My dad's divorced and remarried, and my mom's divorced and remarried, so my mathematical account of my family suggests simply another confused teenager from a broken home. But my dads aren't married to my moms. They're married to each other. Same with my moms.

However, that's not the principal reason I sometimes see my so-called real parents as emissaries from way down under. As a matter of fact, that frightening little off-season trade took place prior to-though not much prior to-my birth, so until I began collecting expert feedback from friends at school, somewhere along about fourth grade, I perceived my situation as relatively normal.

No, what really hacks me off is that they didn't conceive me in some high tech fashion that would have allowed them to dip into an alternative gene pool for my physical goodies. See, when people the size of my parents decide to reproduce, they usually dig a pit and crawl down in there together for several days. Really, I'm surprised someone in this family doesn't have a trunk. Or a blowhole. I swear my gestation period was three years and seven months.

You don't survive a genetic history like that unscathed. While farsighted parents of other infants my age were preenrolling their kids four years ahead into elite preschools, my dad was hounding theWorld Wrestling Federation to hold a spot for me sometime in the early 1990s. I mean, my mom had to go to the husky section of Safeway to buy me Pampers.

I'm a big kid.

And they namedme Angus. God, a name like Angus Be-

thune would tumble Robert Redford from a nine and a half toa four, and I ain't no Robert Redford.

"Angus is a cow," I complained to my stepmother, Bella, the day in first grade I came home from school early for punching the bearer of that sad information in the stomach.

"Your mother must have had a good reason for naming you that," she said.

"For naming me after a cow?"

"You can't go around punching everyone who says that to you," she warned.

"Yes, I can," I said.

"Angus is a cow," I said to my mother when she got home from her job at Westhead Trucking firm. "You guys named me after a cow."

"Your father's uncle was named Angus," she said, stripping off her outer shirt with a loud sigh, then plopping into her easy chair with a beer, wearing nothing but her bra, a bra, I might add, that could well have floated an ejected fighter pilot to safety.

"So my father's uncle was named after a cow, too," I said. "What did he think of that?"

"Actually," Mom said, "I think he was kind of proud. Angus was quite a farmer, you know."

"Jesus help me," I said, and went to my room.

As Angus, the fat kid with perverted parents, I've had my share of adjustment problems, though it isn't as bad as it sounds. My parents' gene pool wasn't a total sump. Dad's family has all kinds of high-school shot put record holders and hammer throwers and even a gridiron hero or two, and my mom's sister almost made it to the Olympic trials in speed skating, so I was handed a fair-size cache of athletic ability. I am incredibly quick for a fat kid, and I have world-class reflexes. It is nearly impossible for the defensive lineman across from me to shake me, such are my anticipatory skills, and when I'm on defense, I need only to lock in on a running back's hips to zero in on the tackle. I cannot be shaken free. Plus you don't have to dig too deep in our ancestral remains to find an IQ safely into three digits, so grades come pretty easy to me. But I'd sure be willing to go into the winter trade meetings and swap reflexes, biceps, and brain cells, lock, stock, and barrel, for a little physical beauty.

Which brings me to tonight. I don't want you to think I spend all my life bitching about being shortchanged in the Tom Cruise department or about having parents a shade to the left of middle on your normal bell-shaped sexual curve; but tonight is a big night, and I don't want the blubbery bogeymen or the phantoms of sexual perversity, who usually pop up to point me out for public mockery, mucking it up for me. I want normal. I want socially acceptable. See, I was elected Senior Winter Ball King, which means for about one minute I'll be featured gliding across the floor beneath the crimson and gold crepe paper streamers at Lake Michigan High School with Melissa Lefevre, the girl of my dreams-and only my dreams-who was elected Senior Winter Ball Queen. For that minute we'll be out there alone.

Alone with Melissa Lefevre.

Now I don't want to go into the tomfoolery that must have gone on behind the scenes to get me elected to such a highly regarded post because to tell you the truth, I can't even imagine. I mean, it's a joke, I know that. I just don't know whose. It's a hell of a good one, though, because someone had to coax a plurality of more than five hundred seniors to forgo casting their ballots for any of a number of bona fide Adonises to write in the name of a cow...

Athletic Shorts. Copyright © by Chris Crutcher. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Foreword 1
A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune 3
The Pin 27
The Other Pin 51
Goin' Fishin' 81
Telephone Man 105
In the Time I Get 125
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First Chapter

A Brief Moment
in the Life of
Angus Bethune

Sometimes, when I stand back and take a good look, I think my parents are ambassadors from hell. Two of them, at least, the biological ones, the big ones.

Four parents are what I have altogether, not unlike a whole lot of other kids. But quite unlike a whole lot of other kids, there ain't a hetero among 'em. My dad's divorced and remarried, and my mom's divorced and remarried, so my mathematical account of my family suggests simply another confused teenager from a broken home. But my dads aren't married to my moms. They're married to each other. Same with my moms.

However, that's not the principal reason I sometimes see my so-called real parents as emissaries from way down under. As a matter of fact, that frightening little off-season trade took place prior to-though not much prior to-my birth, so until I began collecting expert feedback from friends at school, somewhere along about fourth grade, I perceived my situation as relatively normal.

No, what really hacks me off is that they didn't conceive me in some high tech fashion that would have allowed them to dip into an alternative gene pool for my physical goodies. See, when people the size of my parents decide to reproduce, they usually dig a pit and crawl down in there together for several days. Really, I'm surprised someone in this family doesn't have a trunk. Or a blowhole. I swear my gestation period was three years and seven months.

You don't survive a genetic history like that unscathed. While farsighted parents of other infants my age were preenrolling their kids four years ahead into elite preschools, my dad was hounding theWorld Wrestling Federation to hold a spot for me sometime in the early 1990s. I mean, my mom had to go to the husky section of Safeway to buy me Pampers.

I'm a big kid.

And they namedme Angus. God, a name like Angus Be-

thune would tumble Robert Redford from a nine and a half toa four, and I ain't no Robert Redford.

"Angus is a cow," I complained to my stepmother, Bella, the day in first grade I came home from school early for punching the bearer of that sad information in the stomach.

"Your mother must have had a good reason for naming you that," she said.

"For naming me after a cow?"

"You can't go around punching everyone who says that to you," she warned.

"Yes, I can," I said.

"Angus is a cow," I said to my mother when she got home from her job at Westhead Trucking firm. "You guys named me after a cow."

"Your father's uncle was named Angus," she said, stripping off her outer shirt with a loud sigh, then plopping into her easy chair with a beer, wearing nothing but her bra, a bra, I might add, that could well have floated an ejected fighter pilot to safety.

"So my father's uncle was named after a cow, too," I said. "What did he think of that?"

"Actually," Mom said, "I think he was kind of proud. Angus was quite a farmer, you know."

"Jesus help me," I said, and went to my room.

As Angus, the fat kid with perverted parents, I've had my share of adjustment problems, though it isn't as bad as it sounds. My parents' gene pool wasn't a total sump. Dad's family has all kinds of high-school shot put record holders and hammer throwers and even a gridiron hero or two, and my mom's sister almost made it to the Olympic trials in speed skating, so I was handed a fair-size cache of athletic ability. I am incredibly quick for a fat kid, and I have world-class reflexes. It is nearly impossible for the defensive lineman across from me to shake me, such are my anticipatory skills, and when I'm on defense, I need only to lock in on a running back's hips to zero in on the tackle. I cannot be shaken free. Plus you don't have to dig too deep in our ancestral remains to find an IQ safely into three digits, so grades come pretty easy to me. But I'd sure be willing to go into the winter trade meetings and swap reflexes, biceps, and brain cells, lock, stock, and barrel, for a little physical beauty.

Which brings me to tonight. I don't want you to think I spend all my life bitching about being shortchanged in the Tom Cruise department or about having parents a shade to the left of middle on your normal bell-shaped sexual curve; but tonight is a big night, and I don't want the blubbery bogeymen or the phantoms of sexual perversity, who usually pop up to point me out for public mockery, mucking it up for me. I want normal. I want socially acceptable. See, I was elected Senior Winter Ball King, which means for about one minute I'll be featured gliding across the floor beneath the crimson and gold crepe paper streamers at Lake Michigan High School with Melissa Lefevre, the girl of my dreams-and only my dreams-who was elected Senior Winter Ball Queen. For that minute we'll be out there alone.

Alone with Melissa Lefevre.

Now I don't want to go into the tomfoolery that must have gone on behind the scenes to get me elected to such a highly regarded post because to tell you the truth, I can't even imagine. I mean, it's a joke, I know that. I just don't know whose. It's a hell of a good one, though, because someone had to coax a plurality of more than five hundred seniors to forgo casting their ballots for any of a number of bona fide Adonises to write in the name of a cow...

Athletic Shorts. Copyright © by Chris Crutcher. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 19 )
Rating Distribution

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(9)

4 Star

(9)

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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2014

    I recently finished Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher. This was

    I recently finished Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher. This was a very cool and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys short stories. Although this seems like its all about sports, it is not. There is a good story behind each short story! Although each story is different I found them all to be very good. The best part of the book is the fact that although this is fiction, Crutcher does a very good job making it seem like this is happening right before your eyes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2008

    Athletic Shorts

    I am reviewing the book Athletic Shorts¿ ¿A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune¿, by Chris Crutcher; I think Crutcher¿s purpose in writing this book was to have a few short stories that are like his other books. He also states, that in his other books he lets the reader choose how the story ends. The short stories in this book are about people and what happened to them before or after the book was written. I think the Crutcher¿s intended audience is teenagers and the feelings of kids who don¿t fit in and might be overweight or different in some little way. I think the reason he choose this group is to show kid¿s/ teens how the other kids live their lives who might not be as pretty or as skinny as the other teen¿s or as we call them the popular group. The narrator¿s point of view is first person. The person telling the story is Angus. The reason why I feel it¿s important that Angus tells the story is so we can see and feel with great detail what happened;(spoiler alert) like when Angus takes Rick¿s feet out from underneath him and he lands hard on the ground and when he gets on the stage and dances with Melissa. I think Crutcher wanted Angus to be from this time period and his situation is like how teens get treated in school now, unlike how they use to. The whole thing is accurate to real life except one part when the fat kid wins by taking Rick¿s feet out from underneath him and the really hot girl chooses him over her boyfriend and gets chose to be winter ball king the reason why is because most kids would be afraid to try to take on one of the most popular kids in the school and think they would get in trouble or hurt, also they wouldn¿t try to take out the popular kid right in front of their crush or even the pretties girl in the school. The rest of it is accurate to how fat kids or unpopular/ different kids get treated in school and how some people may be different, but know how to stick up for themselves.<BR/>I think I connect most with Angus because I would stick up for my parents if they were that way, but if I had a problem with the most popular kid in school I probably wouldn¿t do the same thing though I would just ignore it and finish enjoying the night like he did. I think that Crutcher was very successful in writing this book; I learned that its not what¿s on the outside that counts it¿s what¿s on the inside. The message he was portraying which was even though some teens may act different don¿t treat them different, because you don¿t know what their home situation is like and they could have a low self esteem and it could potentially backfire on you like it did for Rick and you could loose everything you worked so hard for. Like when Melissa says ¿would you leave with me?¿ to Angus and Rick, Melissa¿s boyfriend gets really mad.<BR/> I would recommend this book to teens so they can know how it feels to be left out or be the one who doesn¿t fit in or gets laughed at all the time. I do agree with Crutcher¿s messages to teens on how discrimination and teasing can harm some teens but other teens it doesn¿t really affect them. This book was very engaging and interesting to me. I think the way Crutcher ends his books is very interesting on how he lets you pick what happens at the end and if it turns out good or bad. I would rate this book a 4 because it was very interesting and made me want to read it more, but I don¿t really like picking my own ending to books and would of liked to know more about what happened to Angus.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Mechele R. Dillard for TeensReadToo.com

    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). <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>Thumbs Up! Award Winner, 1992

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2008

    From Me

    This was a pretty good book. I could relate to a lot of the stories because of all the sports and all kypes of emotions in it. I recommended it, I liked it and I usually don't read books like this one but it was good.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2007

    a reviewer

    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

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2007

    a sophomore at Clinton-Massie Highschool

    I enjoyed the book Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher. In this book there are six short stories Angus bathon, The Pin, The Other Pin, Telephone Man, and In The Time I Get. Angus was my favorite out of all six of these shories. This story was about a kid named Angus, he was about my age. Angus wasn't very popular and he tries really hard to fit in. He wins winter ball king. Towards the end of the story Angus gets into a fight with Rick. If you were competive in sports, you would be interested in this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2007

    A reviewer

    I think it was a good book. It had good stories and characters.It had plenty of discription and emotion. It had strong plots and great settings. My favorite character is Pete Shopshire.He is a wrestler that wrestles a girl that he ends up falling in love with.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2007

    Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories

    This was very a good book. I could relate to a lot of these people because they are athletes and so am I. They all have a lot more serious problems than me though. This book shows a lot of the problems with todays youth though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2007

    Athletic shorts Review

    I thought this was a very good book! it did a good job discribing the authors thought beifs and life moments. this book is also a good book if you like themes suck as racism,love freindship,death,and father son relashonships. but my over all opion of this book was pretty good for a short stoy book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2007

    My Thoughts

    This is truly an astounding book. Whether your a jock or the school nerd any one can enjoy this book. It is centered around athletics but it's themes are relevent to everyday life. This book will grip you from the first page. The stories are exciting, funny and very meaningful. The Characters come from all walks of life and are met by very rough circumstances. I would recommend this to High Schoolers, College Students, or any one looking for a good laugh with or a touching story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2007

    Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories

    I thought that this book was pretty good. I really liked 'Goin' Fishin' but i really didn't like 'In the time I get.' I iked how he lived in 'Goin' Fishin' but still thought of his family but eventually forgave the boy that killed his parents. I also really liked 'The Pin' because my parents are very hard on me when it comes to sports and occasionaly i would lke to say this to them. 'Telephone Man' seemed out of place in this book because he had no athletic ability and although he realized being racist may be wrong it was still not a very good story. Angis Bethune was good and i liked how the fat kid got the 'hot' girl of his dreams although his family life was a little to far fetched. 'The Other Pin' was okay but not as good as the other.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2005

    this book is great

    This book was really written about todays youth. It relates so much to the things that really go on thorugh out high schools today. It is a great book for the youth of today to read.I even liked it enough to do my senior project on it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2000

    Devin-Review

    The first story is called ¿A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune.¿ I thought this story had a good plot and characters. The author¿s description is easy to visualize. The characters are easy to visualize because the author is good at describing them and focusing on their characteristics. Also I think this book¿s plot is a good one and is very descriptive. The authors writing style is that the main character talks about what happens in his life. I recommend this book so far, considering how much I have read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2009

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    Posted March 29, 2011

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