Tom Cardamone has crafted an excellent array of protagonists in wild situations in “Night Sweats: Tales of Homosexual Wonder and Woe,” where guys are looking for love, or living alone, just broken up and exploring fresh sex or living a fantasy. Not all stories have an obvious gay character, and the ones that don’t can be interpreted as having one easily.
This eclectic mix of tales will engross you, and maybe even gross you out. Set in a wide variety of locations, times and mindsets, “Night Sweats” is a mix of light and fun stories comingled with some thought-provoking and creepy tales of the dark.
Imagine being a teen fisherman and you release a creature that looks at you with eyes of understanding, and learning later that you rescued a god in animal form — and the two of you fall in love. In another story, the lead-in sets the main character on a train where the devil is masturbating. Yet another, called “Overtime at the Beheading Factory,” is, well, chilling because the monotony of beheading people is taken so routinely that the reader feels the entire process is natural.
Or maybe you just broke up with your boyfriend and as a parting gift he leaves you a box of very special chocolates — ones that transport you and a sexual partner into a world of smells, sounds and extreme passion. A super-powered human lures the reader into another story of lust and the lost, while in another, a sky of clouds produces a metaphorical dragon.
Cardamone won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Queer Speculative Fiction in 2012 for his novella “Green Thumb,” and his short stories are miniature masterpieces as well. Short stories are fun because they can be read in a single sitting, but don’t let their length make you believe they are simple and weak. These stories will linger — well into your dreams at night. And maybe into your nightmares.
Tom Cardamone reads from his collection, “Night Sweats: Tales of Homosexual Wonder and Woe,” 6:30 p.m. June 10 at Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room.