Thursday, May 15, 2014

Throwback (Review) Thursday: Stories for Nighttime and Some For the Day

I was having trouble deciding what to post today, so I went spelunking in my review archive. I very rarely see this odd, awesome collection mentioned, so I figured I'd give it some updated love! This was originally posted here in 2011. 

I've mentioned here that I'm teaching a Science Fiction and Fantasy class this term, and it's a timely accident that I happened to read Ben Loory's short story collection, Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day in conjunction with it! As I was reading back through a collection of traditional (twisted!) folk and fairy tales, I was also reading a collection of contemporary (twisted!) fairy tales in my free time.


What makes a contemporary fairy tale? A lot of novels and collections are marketed as "modern day fairy tales," but I've never truly read a collection of contemporary tales that so accurately reflect traditional folk and fairy tales.


First off, the stories are short. Some are less than a page long while others max out between five and ten pages. The characters are vague with names like "A boy" or "A girl." While the characters are Everyman and Everywoman, the stories are anything but bland or nondescript. They're crazy, odd, gross, troubling, affecting, sad, joyful, stunning. Given the average length of the story, I would venture to guess there are nearly 50 stories in this book. I don't have it with me or I'd start counting. It's a huge number, though, in comparison to run-of-the-mill story collections.


In the second story in the collection, titled "The Pool" a man thinks he sees a shark in his local public swimming pool. He's shamed when no one else sees it and they all look at him like he's crazy. The next day he asks the life guard if he ever sees anything odd in the pool, and his cryptic answer taunts the man into following up on his suspicions. He climbs the fence to find out for himself. He stretches out on the diving board and stares into the darkness of the water for hours and hours. Just before dawn he realizes what's staring back from the blackness. 


Whaahahahahahaaa! That's my evil laugh (sorry, couldn't help myself)


"The Pool" really sent shivers up my spine. I don't want to tell you what's staring back or what happens in the end, but if you'd like to find out for yourself, you can check out the Amazon.com preview of the book. It includes this story in its entirety. 


While "The Pool" is brief, it has a stark, troubling impact, and it's representative of numerous stories in this collection. Many of the characters find themselves facing dark elements: death, horror, realizations about life and suddenly they become part of the death and destruction they face in the world. This type of tale reminded me of the Nietzsche quote, "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Don't get me wrong -- this collection is NOT a downer, but I happened to find this kind of tale the most memorable.


It's really difficult to describe this book fairly and accurately because with such a mass of stories and such varied, odd content, it doesn't fit into any genre cleanly. The only problem I had, was that sometimes the stories were too short and obscure enough that they simply left me scratching my head. Although, if I read a collection of traditional fairy tales all in a row, I do the same thing. This book is probably best digested in chunks. A binge of stories here and there instead of racing through.


If you're looking for another book to add to your RIP VI challenge pool, I definitely suggest Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day. It's original, fun, and offbeat -- definitely one I'd discuss with a group. If you finish it come on back and discuss it with me!



Pub. Date: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Penguin
Format: e-book
ISBN-10: 
0143119508
Source: NetGalley





17 comments:

  1. Just put this on my goodreads list, I'm intrigued!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is such a great collection. I hope he writes more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do, too! Have you looked to see if he's written more? I haven't.

      Delete
    2. I keep meaning to and keep getting sidetracked. I JUST looked and no, he doesn't. :(

      Delete
  3. Oo, "The Swimming Pool" was spooky. I liked it. And I love the cover and the title. So, sold! even though I don't usually read short story collections.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wasn't it? I loved it. This is a really fun collection so I hope you like it.

      Delete
  4. Shark in a swimming pool. Just tap into my strongest, most irrational fear... Which totally means I want to read this collection. Plus, lovely cover!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, same here! I think that's why I loved it so much.

      Delete
  5. Sharks in the pool sounds scary though I really want to know how it ends. But I probably shouldn't since our pool opens in a couple weeks and we practically live there. I still have an irrational fear of sharks from seeing Jaws as a kid.
    I do hope you will link up your old/updated post to our Throwback Thursday linkup that is still open. It's the chance to revive an old post and share with others. :) http://momssmallvictories.com/throwback-thursday-linkup-11-family-favorite-pancake-recipe/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This story will definitely make you look at the pool just slightly differently. Ugh! I will totally link up!

      Delete
  6. This sounds my like kind of book! Thanks for reposting. I'll add it to the TBRlist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you love it, Reno! It was really a special collection.

      Delete
  7. You're teaching a sic fi fantasy class? That is so cool. I did all sciences at college & uni (which I did love) so I'm always a bit jealous of bloggers with a literary background.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sam, I'm not now, but I have! This was back in 2011 or so when I was still teaching college full time. I also taught a film adaptations class that was REALLY fun!

      Delete
  8. I was just thinking about how this book was EVERYWHERE back in the day. I even pinpointed when it was, because it was right before I moved to NYC. I don't always have a good memory like that, so this one must have made an impression. Thanks for bringing it back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cover always made a huge impression on me! The stories, too, but THAT COVER! #drool

      Delete

Thanks for taking the time to comment! Blogger has been a beast lately, so I hope you do not have any troubles leaving your thoughts.

 
Images by Freepik