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Bad Boys: Rush Hour    edited by Michael Cart order for
Bad Boys
by Michael Cart
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Editor Michael Cart says in his Introduction to Bad Boys, 'Sometimes boys are good; it's the choices they make that are bad ... Bad boys inhabit the real world of art as well as the imagined world of fiction.' In the Foreword, Jack Gantos (once a drug smuggler in his 'bad boy years') writes, 'I love the thought of bad boys reading good books'.

This second Rush Hour volume offers a collection of stories from various authors, poets, and playwrights, touching on the title subject. As with any collection, I found the stories mixed, with some not at all to my liking. Among the notables are an excerpt from Vandal by Michael Simmons. It's narrated by sixteen-year-old Will Brenner about his brother Jason, who continuously gets into trouble, including beating up his own brother - often. Will says, 'I just had to accept Jason's behavior as a fact of life ... Some people are possessed with the unstoppable desire to vandalize ... Others are doomed to spend their lives with a delinquent bully for a brother.' David Lubar's Apparent Motives is also engrossing - the heartening story of a son who is considering 'doing away' with his father for the latter's constant abuse of his mother.

I found the editorial Serving Jock Culture by newspaper columnist/sportswriter Robert Lipsyte exceptional. He writes compellingly of society's hard push for athletic success, discussing the Columbine High School shootings, Mike Tyson, fight promoter Don King, basketball's Dennis Rodman, and 'off-field wild side' linebacker Lawrence Taylor. Lipsyte refers to high school as 'the ground zero of Jock Culture ... even heroes can be victims.' Paraphrasing a senior linebacker named Dave Merrill, the author writes 'Even if you are an athlete, you don't have to roll over for Jock Culture; you're supposed to be tough, but that doesn't only mean the easy stuff like lifting more weight and hitting harder, always trying to dominate and win. It also means facing challenging situations and making hard decisions, sometimes going against the crowd and not listening to what you know is bad advice'. Lipsyte adds 'It means being a man. Put that on your locker wall.'

Seventeen writers have contributed to this second Rush Hour volume in a series published twice yearly (note that these anthologies contain some offensive language). Each has a different theme. Future planned volumes will address 'Face', 'Reckless', and 'Good Girls'. Like me, readers will find some stories more to their liking than others, and can pick and choose those most meaningful to them.

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