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Real Men Don't Pretend and Other Stories

Roberts, Jarod Cannon
The collection centers on the conflict of idealism versus coming into contact with reality. In the three stories written in third person, characters from different cultures and socio-economic statuses must to grips with their own prejudices and mistrusts while trying to hold on to their idealistic self-perceptions. In the story �Lady and Mateo,� an autistic convenient store clerk befriends a customer who was recently released from prison only to be swayed by his sister that Lady cannot be trusted. The idealistic daughter has a similar conflict of identity in �The Farm and the Family� when her perceptions of great-grandmother are shattered when she finds out the old lady is just as mean and bitter as her sons who have found wealth in Fort Worth. The first person stories also deal with the idealism versus reality but in a much more internal and personal way for the narrators. In �Various Forms of Guilt,� the narrator questions his sheltered world view and lifestyle after meeting one of the bikini clad baristas from the coffee shop that shares a parking lot with the piano store he manages. While the narrator of �Misplaced Sexual Hubris� must confront the fact that he is not a misunderstood artist but a student too lazy for college whose mother happens to be a famous artist. All these characters struggle to reconcile their perceptions of themselves and the world with the reality that they come to face on a day to day basis.