Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory
Author: Ben Loory
Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / Contemporary / Weird / Magical)
Publisher/Publication Date: Penguin (7/26/2011)
Source: The publisher
Rating: Liked a great deal!
Did I finish?: Yes, in a handful of hours.
One-sentence summary: Forty short stories tackle big topics like love, loss, identity, and the meaning of life, in the oddest and quirkiest ways.
Do I like the cover?: Yes, it features many elements from his stories; the placards are featured in the book as well, breaking up the sections.
I'm reminded of...: Douglas Adams, Aimee Bender
First line: The television thinks it knows better than the family that's sitting there staring at it. from 'The TV and Winston Churchill'
Was... I totally that weird person snorting and snickering on the subway?: YES. Both commutes, morning and evening, and I tried to contain my mirth which only made my snortles more embarrassing!
Do... I think everyone should go to Loory's website and read the very short story 'The Girl in the Storm'?: YES. It's one of my favorites from this collection and perfectly captures the quirky, bittersweet feel of his writing.
Am... I excited about Loory's upcoming appearance in Boston?: YES. Expect more embarrassing fangirl pictures!
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow for sure, or buy for someone who thinks literature can't be irreverent or unusual or just plain weird!
Why did I get this book?: I'm feeling more adventurous about short fiction and I just adored the title.
Review: I had no idea what to expect of these short stories, which are described by one blurb-er as a "love child" of Mother Goose and Philip K. Dick. Exciting! Then I saw that Jack Zipes was one of the blurb-ers (is there a better, more official name?) and I was sold. (I should add I'm rarely swayed by blurbs, too, but I'm a sucker for Zipes!)
All this is to say that by the time I cracked open this book, I was expecting something a bit odd, very inventive, and quite quirky. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed. This collection of forty stories tackles the everyday in the most extraordinary manner. There's a deceptive childishness to the stories, like listening to a toddler weaving a narrative together -- but by the time you get to the end of the tale, you find a hint of humor or horror or tenderness that is unexpected and wholly mature.
I shivered, I laughed, I gasped, and I sniffed. Loory's briefest stories stung and delighted me, and I couldn't decide if I wanted to pause after each one to mull or plunge on for another guaranteed surprise. Immediately upon finishing I made my wife read this (I literally had her reading in the movie theatre while we waited for Cowboys & Aliens to start), and I've kept my copy in my purse so I can share my favorite stories with anyone who has five minutes to spare.
*** *** ***
The publisher has kindly offered a copy of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day to one lucky reader! Just leave a comment on this review to be entered. Open to US/CA readers, closes 8/26. For another entry, comment on my interview with Ben Loory tomorrow.