Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

by Ben Loory

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143119500
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/26/2011
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 45,230
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.

Customer Reviews

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Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 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.
lauriebrown54 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This small book is deceptive looking. It¿s slight looking, only 200 pages. The stories are short; some only four pages long. But, oh how this author can make you think in four pages! These tiny gems are all surrealistic. There are walking trees and aliens and severed heads that talk and an octopus that lives in an upstairs apartment, collects teaspoons and loves Darjeeling tea. They demand that you suspend disbelief and accept their own internal logic. I gobbled these stories up in two nights, unable to stop reading them. Some are funny, some creepy. Some made me go ¿Huh?¿ They are all¿ odd, in a through the looking glass sort of way, and they are mostly all fun to read.
readingthruthenight on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Title: Stories for Nighttime and Some for the DayAuthor: Ben LooryPages: 208Pub: 2011Genre: Fiction, Short StoriesEtc: ARC from NetgalleyThe Short of ItClever and odd short fic fun.The Long of ItThis is a collection of oftentimes surreal (an octopus who has slight agoraphobia living downtown) and oddly unique short stories. Some are relatively harmless, while others have a bite that will tear at your mind. For example, in ¿The Book¿ a woman freaks out after purchasing a book that ends up having blank pages. She then verbally attacks the author and anyone else who purchases it. Or ¿The Tree¿ where a tree decides to get up and explore it¿s surroundings, roaming the world.The Thoughts about ItI cannot capture how odd these stories were. After reading a couple of them, my immediate thought turned to how awesome some would be for my classroom. The majority of the stories are about five pages long, but the depth to them is something fierce. Ooooh and the writing? Wowzers. Is it over the top to say lyrical? Feisty lyrical prose?The only downside was really more about me rather than the collection. I¿m not disciplined enough to read only a couple of short stories at a time, and I think that¿s how they probably should be read. Rather, I sorta devoured the whole text in a day or two which led to the stories bleeding into one and another. I also could probably have read them on a different level entirely if I had the patience. Luckily though, this is a collection that warrants the time to read again and again.
breadnbutter on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is my first attempt at reviewing a short story collection. I am a big fan of reading short stories because it isn't daunting at all to just read a couple of pages and have a feeling of completeness. In my opinion, the best short story writer is the great Stephen King. It is hard not to compare other collections to his work, especially if they are being marketed in the paranormal, fantasy, sci fi genre. It doesn't have to be scary like King's, but I feel his are the just the right length and the endings are almost always superb in their shock and awe value.With that being said, it is completely possible that I am a bit bias towards those types of stories. What I loved about Ben Loory's short (and I mean SHORT) stories, are that they are extremely creative. Clever premises, talking animals, aware inanimate objects, and martians all find their place here. The stories had such great set-ups, most with the nice creepy element that I was expecting which did manage to create excitement in that short amount of time. Loory writes short, sweet, and to the point. However the big downfall to this collection is the endings. One of the definitions of fable (and the one I feel was intended when calling these stories fables) is:a short tale to teach a moral lesson, often with animals or inanimate objects as charactersThe main issue I have with this is the fact that I couldn't really wheedle out any of the moral lessons that were being portrayed. Unfortunately, I felt that the writing was too esoteric, and the fact that most, of the 39 stories included, ended with me going, "What?", and that's not in a good way. I just didn't get it, plain and simple. I'm sure that there are plenty of others who got something from these stories, but I wasn't one of them.
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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