REVIEW: Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory

REVIEW: Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben LooryStories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory
Published: Penguin (2011), Paperback, 224pg
Genres: Fiction

three-half-stars

Summary:

Loory’s collection of wry and witty, dark and perilous contemporary fables is populated by people–and monsters and trees and jocular octopi–who are motivated by the same fears and desires that isolate and unite us all. In this singular universe, televisions talk (and sometimes sing), animals live in small apartments where their nephews visit from the sea, and men and women and boys and girls fall down wells and fly through space and find love on Ferris wheels. In a voice full of fable, myth, and dream, Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day draws us into a world of delightfully wicked recognitions, and introduces us to a writer of uncommon talent and imagination. (from Amazon)

Buy on Amazon | Goodreads

-

I don’t really read that many short stories, if only because I’m busy reading longer stories. But this book is less a collection of short stories and more a collection of stories whose purpose is to make you think about fantastic things and maybe expand your imagination or something.

There really isn’t any morals in these stories.1 There’s hardly any plot, and a lot of stuff doesn’t make sense, and one story was only three sentences long. I think if I hadn’t read a lot of weird and confusing Modern fiction before I read this book I would have probably left it halfway through for another book with a cohesive narrative. But luckily I DID read all that Modern fiction and, as a bonus, I paid attention to the first story.

The first story is probably one of my favorites in the book2, not only because it was a lot of fun to read but also because it sets up the rest of the book so nicely. In the first story, a woman finds a blank book. She doesn’t know what to do with it and so she gets rid of it. The next day she sees multiple people reading the blank book. This freaks her out and so she spends a good deal of time and effort to campaign against the blank book existing.

Then the rest of the story happens, which I don’t want to spoil, but the point is this: the story starts out relatively “real,” with the book and the woman who, on the face of it, is the only one who’s sane. Who reads a blank book, after all? But then the story gets progressively less and less “real,” until finally the bits of magic happen and everything’s slid into imagination/unreal/just-a-bit-surreal land.

The author

Basically the whole book’s like that, and if you don’t like the first story I don’t think you’ll like the others, either. Since I DID like the first story I of course liked the others, although I think since I read them all at once they lost some of their power.

I love books that encourage people to think outside the realms of reality, as I think too often people are discouraged from doing that.3 Also, the way the stories are written makes them feel like someone’s telling them to you over a campfire, or something. That’s nice, too.

I guess the only downside is that because all the stories sound the same, and because I read them all at once, I can’t really remember individual ones except for, like, three. Remembering three out of forty stories (without a hint) is kind of bad, isn’t it? Or is it not bad? I can’t decide. I don’t even really know if it’s bad that the stories all sound the same. (Is it?)

I do think it’s kind of bad I’ve forgotten more than half the book already, though. And my memory isn’t THAT bad.

Also I suppose I like the idea of some of the stories more than the actual stories themselves. Some of the stories were kind of boring, but they had some element in them that kept me interested (a talking moose, for instance). I think I spent a lot of my time interested but sort of up-and-down entertained– not that I’m expecting to be entertained all the time, like some sort of toddler. But, on the whole, I felt more “oh, that’s interesting” than “wow that was fantastic.” If that makes sense.

But anyway, I like Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day. I like what it’s trying to do and I like the idea of it. I like that it’s weird and that people will probably get really annoyed by the stories until their imagination has become less atrophied. The stories themselves are mostly fun but also kind of boring, depending on how you look at it. It’s probably better if you read them a few at a time, so they have a chance to not get boring and same-y.

I’ll probably reread it sometime in the future, when I want something magical and a bit weird, and I’ll probably reread it in chunks instead of in one big gulp. If you appreciate weird magical stories that sometimes don’t make sense, I think you’d like Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day, too.

Read: July 16, 2011

Notes

You can read one of the stories, The Girl in the Storm, right here at Ben Loory’s website.

Footnotes

  1. although there are themes and things, but I’m not in school any more and you can’t make me talk about them.
  2. the other one’s a story with only three sentences, and maybe also the one about the duck who’s in love with a rock.
  3. “get real,” “think realistically,” “you’re not taking your student career seriously,” etc.

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory”

  1. As I get older and older, I feel like I tend to avoid these kinds of books favoring more “mature” themes. However, I think it is important to read books like this to nourish your imagination. When it comes to books, I think that weird is definitely a good thing but sometimes it does need to be taken in smaller doses.

    1. I think short story collections in general just read “better” when you read them in parts instead of all at once. I keep forgetting that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.