Red Blinds the Foolish by est em: A-

From the back cover:
Rafita is the young, rising star of the bullfighting world known as “The Red Matador.” He has never feared facing a bull since his first kill at the age of twelve. But when he falls in love with Mauro, a butcher who rends the bulls that Rafita kills, his confidence begins to waver. In the matador’s dreams, Mauro (who, like a bull, is colorblind) is, alternately, the bull he faces in the ring and the butcher who carves up his own skewered corpse. Beautifully observed and drawn by est em, the author of Seduce Me After the Show, with a depth of style and passion, Red Blinds the Foolish depicts a complex relationship, and a cultural form, in a place where the sublime and the savage meet.

Red Blinds the Foolish includes the title story, told in three chapters, and four additional stories, one of which deals with one of the characters from “Red Blinds the Foolish” as a younger man.

The title story is definitely my favorite of the volume. I like the languid mood, the unique setting of Madrid, and the incorporation of some Spanish bullfighting terms. There are some things that transpire between them that I don’t really get, like some things Mauro says to Rafita that apparently drive away his bad dreams and enable him to be a success in the ring again, but on the whole I really like this story. One of the things est em does best is show the guys having intelligent conversations that don’t in any way revolve around romance or their relationship. Like with Seduce Me After the Show, these are grown, professional men with ambitions and skills, and I enjoy when they talk about such things with their lovers.

Three of the remaining short stories are good, but not great. “Corpse of the Round Table” explains the origin of a scar Mauro has as well as how he ended up a butcher. “Baby, Stamp Your Foot” is about a shoemaker who gets aroused when his lovers wear shoes he has made for them. “Tiempos Extra” is about a rabid soccer fan and the stadium security guard who fancies him.

The last story, “Lumiere,” is another that I liked a lot. An old, bedridden man is dictating a story to a younger man. The story is about a choreographer who encounters a phenomenal male dancer, which resonates with the younger man because he, too, is in love with a dancer. Not a lot happens in this story, but it, too, has the languid mood that seems to be what all my favorite est em stories have in common.

Ultimately, I liked Seduce Me After the Show a little more, but this is a very close second.

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