I suppose exhaust is "exhaust gas", but what is "sweat"? Cars are neither sweating nor worrying. What is meant by that?

Ben and I hit traffic. The stop and go of the freeway was made even more maddening by the sweat and exhaust from all of the cars. We had been stuck on the same stretch of road for twenty minutes when Ben asked a question I had been avoiding.

Taylor Jenkins Reid "Forever Interrupted"

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    That is a really bad edition. The punctuation and capitalisation is rubbish. My guess it that the sweat was theirs (Hers and Ben's). Commented May 17, 2022 at 5:33

1 Answer 1


It is the sweat of her and Ben. The idea is that the environment is unpleasant because of the smell of their own sweat and the smell of the exhaust fumes from the cars. But this is not a particularly well expressed piece of prose.

  • It reads a bit like an attempt to render the stream of consciousness of a stupid or uneducated person. Whether that is intentional or accidental I cannot decide. If the edition linked to is an accurate reproduction of the print edition, then the eccentric punctuation (or lack of it) and strange typography (lower cased proper names - there is someone called 'ana') maybe suggests the former. Maybe. Commented May 17, 2022 at 10:11
  • @Michael Which "edition linked to". Did the OP link to an edition in a comment or somewhere else?
    – James K
    Commented May 17, 2022 at 20:57
  • My mistake. I did a Google search for a chunk of the text and forgot that there wasn't a link. I looked at this - novelforfree.com/… Commented May 17, 2022 at 21:43

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