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Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

3.7 11
by Ben Loory

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“This guy can write!” —Ray Bradbury

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 united by twin motivations: fear and desire. In his singular universe, televisions talk (and sometimes sing), animals live in small apartments where


“This guy can write!” —Ray Bradbury

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 united by twin motivations: fear and desire. In his 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.

Contains 40 stories, including “The Duck,” “The Man and the Moose,” and “Death and the Fruits of the Tree,” as heard on NPR’s This American Life, “The Book,” as heard on Selected Shorts, and “The TV,” as published in The New Yorker.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The 40 cheerfully ominous stories in this collection feel like collaborations between Tex Avery and Franz Kafka. Each starts with a surreal premise—a man notices a strange hat staring at him, a duck falls in love with a rock, etc.—and sidles along from there. By itself, each sketch is tantalizingly incomplete, but that uneasy wonder is part of Loory's purpose. When these pieces work, as they often do, they invite readers to develop the idea themselves, to use their own imaginations to flesh out characterizations and consequences. Reading several stories in a row might mitigate some of the individual impact, but together they provide a series of glimpses into a world in which all manner of disturbing discoveries and transformations are possible. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“Wild, dreamy debut . . . these stories are full of wit, humor, and heart. . . . Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day is a wonderful introduction to a writer capable of finding inspiration in the most unlikely of places.”
Boston Globe
“Very good fun . . .Playing with and sometimes combining genres, including horror, allegory and fairy tale, Loory refreshes the story form while acknowledging apprenticeship to such masters as Ray Bradbury and Franz Kafka.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Lovely tales of the fantastic.”
—Elle Magazine (An “Elle Recommends” Pick)
“Loory bends reality with wry humor and anthropomorphic shenanigans. . . . These are some fractured fairy tales.”
—Time Out NY
“[L]onely, haunting, and dreamlike.”
—Gary K. Wolfe, Locus Magazine
“Strange, gorgeous fables—the reader isn’t sure if she has dreamed them or read them.”
—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Review of Books
Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day might be the best collection of wonder and amazement I have ever read.”
—Michael Jones, Blogcritics.org
“[I]mmensely entertaining.”
—The AV Club
“The 40 cheerfully ominous stories in this collection feel like collaborations between Tex Avery and Franz Kafka.”
—Publishers Weekly
“One of a kind: a thoroughly entertaining antidote to rigid thinking and excessive seriousness.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day is that rare find—a book that excites the reader. These tales are hilarious and vertiginous in the calmly absurd manner of Lydia Davis, Jack Handey and Etgar Keret. With his first book, Ben Loory proves he’s already a master of the sleight of hand.”
—Stewart O’Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster
“If Mother Goose and Philip K. Dick had a love child, and Richard Brautigan raised him in Watermelon Sugar, he might write stories like Ben Loory.”
—Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here
“Ben Loory’s debut is a mesmerizing landscape of nightmares, daydreams, fables, and parables—sometimes all four at once—that crackles with prose so spare and clean you’ll swear you can see it gleam, with themes so intensely personal, you’ll want to weigh them in your palm and bear them away.
—Keith Dixon, author of Ghostfires
Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day is a book that comes alive when you read it. It will stand on its own, pet your hair while you sleep, and hold the umbrella over your head in the rain.”
—Aaron Dietz, author of Super
Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day is a unique accomplishment. Short, terse, and disquieting, Loory’s tales will compel readers to reflect upon our troubling times and grasp how our world has been turned upside down. In this respect, they are postmodern fairy tales which do not promise false happiness but enlighten us about the distorted manner in which our world has been transformed.”
—Jack Zipes, editor of The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales; author of Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion
“Ben Loory’s haunting fables spin off puzzlements that stay with you long after you’ve put down the book.”
—Edward Packard, creator of Choose Your Own Adventure
“Some write like a dream, but each of these impressive stories reads like one (even those written ‘for day’). Disarmingly simple and startlingly profound, Ben Loory’s tales take readers through a wholly original universe of whimsy and pathos, moral darkness and brilliantly illuminated truths. Like the best dreams, they resonate, linger and haunt long after the Ambien wears off.”
—James P. Othmer, author of The Futurist
“Quite unlike anything else I have read, a singular work that seems content to explore a universe all its own, in the manner of, say, ‘Kubla Khan’ or The Circus of Dr. Lao. The cumulative effect is not cloying but strangely exhilarating, both for its deadpan considerations of life and death and the things that happen in between and for some unexpected revelations about the essence of storytelling that arise from its stripped-down style. It will be exciting to see what this quietly fearless writer publishes next.”
—Dennis Etchison, author of The Dark Country
“Ben Loory is a writer who makes me feel less alone in the world. He also makes me feel like the world is more—and not less—absurd than I had originally suspected, which always comes as a strange relief. All of this is another way of saying that Loory is an original, and a good one, and someone well worth reading. Funny, weird, insightful, and wry. A giver of wincing laughter. I recommend him highly and could easily see several cults forming around his work. Good cults, too. Not the staid, mediocre variety.”
—Brad Listi, author of Attention. Deficit. Disorder.
“Ben Loory is a master cosmologist waiting to be discovered, with a parabolic telescope that will allow you to see right to the living heart, not of the matter, but of matter itself, of what matters.”
—Andrew Ramer, author of Little Pictures: Fiction for a New Age
“Ben Loory’s stories are small surprises of beauty and wonder—often tragic, sometimes comic, but always full of hope.”
—Mary Gutterson, author of We Are All Fine Here
Kirkus Reviews

These minimal, surreal confabulations are tiny dramas whittled down to their unadorned emotional core, carrying readers through transformations of mood to striking, often startling and always unexpected epiphanies.

A man is haunted by his awareness of a secret monster sleeping at the bottom of the local pool; when his disguise fails a moose must flee for his life from a sportsmens' party; the sea and a house fall in love with one another and are initially frustrated in their attempts to unite; an octopus finds his solitude and spoon-polishing habit interrupted when his nephews come to visit from the sea; boys crawl into dark places where they face their fears and find light; a father, attempting to save his son from a well, learns to fly. If one story could encapsulate the irrationality that drives this irreducible collection, it would be "On the Way Down: A Story for Ray Bradbury," about a falling man, a play on Bradbury's admonition against pure intellect: "you've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down."Loory gives wings to many of these flights of fancy, but their flights are unpredictable and his machinery, deceptively simple, is mysterious.Many flirt with mythology and metaphor, drawing characters into an underworld of phobias, of sex and death and loneliness, allowing them to return enlightened, but the playfulness that permeates Loory's work prevents them from coming off as preachy.Always they entertain with a delightful elasticity of mind, a deep pathos and an infectious sense of the comic aspects of the human condition.These very short stories are all the more impressive in the depth and openness to interpretation they achieve with simple elements and a lack of real characters. Yet despite the fact that the stories are undeveloped, like stick figures in a flip book, Loory uses some sort of magic to elicit strong pathos.

One of a kind: a thoroughly entertaining antidote to rigid thinking and excessive seriousness.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt



She wandered this way and that, this way and that, try¬ing to find a way home. But the sky was too dark, and the rain too fierce; all the girl did was go in circles.
Then, suddenly, there were arms around her. Strong arms—good strong arms. And they picked the girl up and carried her away.
When she woke, she was lying in bed.

It was a warm bed—very warm—by a roaring fire. The blankets were soft, and she was dry. She looked around the room. There were paintings on the walls.
There was a hot cup of tea on the nightstand.
Hello? called the girl. Hello? Hello?
A young man appeared in the doorway. He looked down at the girl with a kind, quiet smile.
Feel better? he said.
And she did.


The girl stayed with the man for quite a long time, until she had all her strength back.
I guess it's time for me to go home, she said, and started to gather her clothes.
But when she got to the door, she saw the rain was still falling. If anything, it was falling even harder. So she took off her clothes again, and went back to bed, and lay in the man's arms a little longer.
This went on for many, many years, and eventually the girl grew very old.
And then one day she discovered on the wall by the door the switch that turned the rain on and off.
She stood there staring at the beautiful day outside, and then down at the simple little switch. She listened as the birds flew by the window, singing.
And then she turned and went back to bed.

In the night, that night, the man woke up.
Did the rain stop? he said. I dreamt it did.
And the girl put her arms around the man and held him tight.
It may have, she said. But it's all right.

Meet the Author

Ben Loory’s fables and tales have appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, READ Magazine, and Fairy Tale Review, and been heard on This American Life and Selected Shorts. He is also the author of Tales of Falling and Flying and a picture book for children, The Baseball Player and the Walrus. A graduate of Harvard University and the American Film Institute MFA program in screenwriting, Loory lives in Los Angeles, where he is an Instructor for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.

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Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This sort of book does not come around very often. You read it quickly. You don't even notice you're reading a profoundly meaningful work. Yet after you put it down, you realize its true potency. It lingers there, not in your hands but in your mind and soul. The characters are strange but familiar. Familiar in the way other people's recounted memories are familiar. The settings are as far away as other dimensions, but as close as your own mind's eye line of sight. Don't let the month go by without reading this book.
lisabeebe More than 1 year ago
These stories will stick in your head and change the way you look at ducks and trees and spoons.
ReaderOfThePack More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy a good short story collection. I am not a particularly fast reader, so short stories provide the opportunity for me to finish a story or two (or three) in one evening. When I saw the description of Ben Loory's Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day, I knew I had to read the book. Just look at that fantastic cover. The design inside the book is equally nice. As I read the first couple of stories, I began to sense Loory's style, which I might sum up as short and abrupt. Many of the stories finish out at 3-5 pages. I would finish a story and think, That's it? But what happened? Readers will often have to figure out what the ending of each story means to them. I don't always do so well with this writing style because I like closure. I am still pondering the ending of The Man Who Went to China as I write this review. With that said, there are quite a few gems in the collection. My favorites include: The Swimming Pool, The Octopus, The Duck, UFO: A Love Story, The Little Girl and the Balloon, The Afterlife is What You Leave Behind, The Tree, The House on the Cliff and The Sea and The Woman and the Basement. The Octopus is my favorite story in the collection. This is the story of an octopus who has moved to the city. His nephews, who live in the sea, come to visit him. They want to see the city, but the octopus realizes that he doesn't leave his apartment very often so he's not sure what to show them. When he drops his nephews off at the sea after their visit, he considers his current life in the city compared to his former life in the sea.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I adored this book. It was hard not to read it all up at once, so I just read a few stories each evening. This book is awesome!!
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I thought it was a very good book
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