Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

by Ben Loory
Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

by Ben Loory

Paperback

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Overview

“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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143119500
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/26/2011
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

THE GIRL IN THE STORM

THERE ONCE WAS A GIRL WHO WAS LOST IN A STORM.

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 IN THE STORM

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.

Interviews

Some have described your stories as "contemporary fables" and "post-modern fairy tales." Did you set out to invigorate these classic forms of storytelling? What is appealing to you about these traditions?
I grew up reading fables and fairy tales (as well as anything I could find about ghosts, monsters, unsolved mysteries, astronauts and aliens), so it doesn't surprise me when that kind of stuff finds its way onto the page when I write, but it's certainly not intentional... I just write whatever comes out. In my mind, I'm just writing stories, not fables (and definitely not fairy tales (not that I have anything against them, but there are no princesses or castles in my book)).
Really, I think what I do is closer in feel to The Twilight Zone than anything else, and most heavily indebted to writers of weird fiction like Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, and H.P. Lovecraft. But I guess because they're written so sparely, they come across as a throwback to another time. And I have always really loved Aesop's fables, so I don't mind the comparison.
Your stories are marked by a highly imaginative spirit, and sense of wonder. Do you think that your stories are appealing to children? What did you read as a child, and do you think this has influenced you as a writer?
I hope that my stories appeal to children! And I'm often told that they do ("The House on the Cliff and the Sea," apparently, is a big favorite with them). Many of the stories are pretty dark though— not that there's a lot of sex and violence or anything— but the themes tend to be existential, and often involve matters of life and death. But that was the way all my favorite books were when I was little... Roald Dahl's Danny The Champion of the World, A Wrinkle in Time, The Lord of the Rings, even the Narnia books... I think kids know a lot more about darkness than we like to think they do. (Probably because they are essentially powerless and the world is still new to them and strange.)
The collection is a mix of daydreams and nightmares, as the title suggests. Do you think the distinction between the two is immutable, or is there some crossover?
There's definitely crossover. I never really thought of it as a collection of nightmares and dreams, though the stories definitely have surreal qualities. I think of dreams and nightmares as fragmentary and confused, while my stories are all classically structured.
The title actually was intended to describe not so much the stories themselves as the emotional disposition of the reader... i.e., they are stories meant to be read in times of uncertainty and confusion, but also sometimes when one is happy.
In addition to being a writer, you have worn another hat, and worked as a screenwriter. Do you think your work in film has had an impact on your writing? Are there films or filmmakers you love that you think have influenced your work?
Without a doubt, screenwriting had a huge impact on me; it taught me to think dramatically— on the level of story instead of simply sentences— and beyond that, to always keep the reader visualizing, and to beware the seductions of the abstract.
My favorite filmmakers are many and varied, but my biggest influences would probably be Hitchcock, Howard Hawks (I'm a huge fan of His Girl Friday), Buster Keaton, David Lynch, and Luis Bunuel. Plus all those geniuses over at Warner Brothers cartoons— Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, and the rest— who are the guys who really taught me that there are truly no limits in storytelling, and that comedy and horror and drama and satire can all happily co-exist in the same piece (and indeed, support one another).
Who have you discovered lately?
I've actually been having a great year reading-wise; I recently discovered both Javier Marias and Jean Echenoz, two European writers who are diametrical opposites but (perhaps for that reason) inextricably linked in my mind. Marias' A Heart So White nearly drove me crazy when I was reading it, with its constant circling and repetitive, repetitive, repetitive chiseling... but is now etched forever in my mind, like a place I used to live and still dream about. And Echenoz's Ravel was just a delight of a book; even if I weren't a huge fan of the composer already I'm sure the book would have made me one. Just really clean, light, sparkling writing which somehow creates a profound effect.
I've also recently discovered Norman Mailer (I know, I'm behind on a lot of things), and especially enjoyed Tough Guys Don't Dance and An American Dream (both of which were recommended to me by Sarah Rose Etter, author of the brilliant collection Tongue Party, which everyone should immediately buy and read). His The Gospel According to the Son, however... hmmm, not quite so good.
And lastly, though I've always been a Muriel Spark fan— based on The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Memento Mori— I finally made it past those two books to discover she actually wrote a huge number of them! So far I've been through The Driver's Seat and Loitering with Intent... both of which are gleefully murderous little books... and I have a stack of at least seven more sitting on my nightstand raring to go. And the best thing about them is they're all so short! I love a writer who knows when to stop talking.

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