Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The most noticeable characteristic of Faust’s style in “The Year of the Hot Jock” is the unique syntax. Many sentences are merely fragments; all are short, and those that are longer (perhaps eight or ten words) are always broken two or three times by commas, dashes, or other punctuation. This style is used to replicate the inner workings of a jock’s mind. Accordingly, readers are given snippets of thoughts that hold together and make sense, but do not cohere into any thought beyond the shallow.

The entire story is seen from a limited, first-person point of view. Readers know at all times the thoughts and perceptions of Pablo Diaz. The lies he tells others, as well as the lies he tells himself, about his life and his activities are transparent to the reader and should be transparent to the main character himself. His thoughts are on the order of stream of consciousness in a jock’s mind.

Faust uses metaphors for life throughout the story. Foremost among these is the racetrack as the road of life. Similarly, women become horses, and horses become women—in a grotesque fashion, both are merely objects that Diaz rides—in this mind of the lustful male who is overcompensating for his shortness and lack of weight by becoming a stud, asserting male primitivity in the most basic of instinctual ways. The story is awash in symbols of a materialistic, greedy, and plastic society: Mercedes cars, Zuni jewelry, big-screen televisions, and so on pervade this man’s life. Pablo Diaz exists not so much as a jockey who fixes races, but as a combination and culmination of crass and materialistic stereotypes.