BOOK NOOK: These odd tales might really grow on you

Sometimes I like to read way outside my comfort zone. “Sporting Moustaches,” a story collection by Aug Stone, is definitely different from anything I have encountered. The thirteen stories feature humor and absurdity. Some are simply bizarre. The author includes lots of snarky cultural references that can make the stories more fun to read.

The thing that ties these together, sometimes literally, is facial hair. Also sports. All of the stories involve men with prodigious facial growths and most of these characters participate in one sport or another from basketball to ice skating. Some of the sports are a bit of a stretch like chess, and even a tug of war, but they still work in their bristly contexts.

In his pursuit of the literary hirsute the author takes us to competitions. In “Let Us Begin,” we meet a hockey player with a secret weapon, he wraps his enormous moustache around the handle of his hockey stick. This odd technique is effective and your first clue Aug Stone will grow to great lengths for a laugh.

“Face Hit” is a baseball story set in Cleveland in 1953. In this collection we encounter various pseudonyms for moustaches. In this one a batter dodges a pitch: “the second pitch was inside, so Barry jumped out of the way screaming in mock pain, claiming the ball had hit The Juice Strainer itself and that he deserved to head to first.”

I learned a lot reading this-frankly some things I honestly preferred not knowing. In “First and Mane” I groaned at this shameless punster’s title. Even the book’s title is a pun. I didn’t really realize what punnish meant (my punishment, I suppose), until I asked the author about it.

That one is a football story set in the summer of 1913, before players wore helmets. The key moment involves a play in which the players tie their moustaches together “to form an unassailable wall.” This painful ploy was key to victory and I assumed that was as weird as it could get. I was wrong, way wrong.

Each story opens with an impressive illustration. In “Net Worth” look closely as our star drives to the basket to shoot the ball-you’ll notice how fuzzy the net was. Weird, eh? It isn’t just me right? I feel strange even describing it. But it worked. He averaged over fifty points a game with that creepy net.

“Putting the ‘Ache’ in Moustache” is our tug of war story. I’ll leave that one to your imagination. Personal favorites-a surreal badminton story in which the ace player distracts opponents as birds living inside his beard flutter out at key moments. I enjoyed the chess story-a Russian chess player incessantly devouring beets.

I kept wondering, who is the audience for this? People with moustaches? Guys who dig sports? Women who appreciate facial hair? The author is a former comedian. I assume he knows the market. This book made me want to get a really quick shave.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit Contact him at

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

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