Stories for the Nightimes and Some for the Day

 I am one of those readers who really waffles on short stories. They are handy, especially for carrying with you, something quick to read and have a complete story to enjoy. Of course, on the other hand, they are short, and I love something I can get my teeth into, get really lost in and only come up for air to eat every few hours. There is one other big problem with short stories, and particularly collections, they tend to be “literature”, the kind of thing assigned in English Lit 101 and that can get distracting. STORIES FOR THE NIGHTTIME AND SOME FOR THE DAY by Ben Loory falls somewhere in the middle.

There are some real gems in this book, those small stories that you treasure like a rich chocolate truffle. Small, but perfectly rich and perfectly smooth. There are stories that I found utterly delightful and made the book a worthwhile whole. Those small pieces, like the best bits in a box of chocolates, the ones you stick your fingers in, hoping to find the treasures—all dark chocolate truffle or cordial cherry. I know, this seems an odd analogy, but this is an odd little book. There is humor, genuine light humor and darkly sad humor, there are moment of irony and moments of strangely un-triumphant triumph.

For me, however, there is a big problem with this book. It is incredibly self aware. In fact, I was beginning to dread that the entire thing was going to turn out like the first offering entitled “The Book” and Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day would be nothing but a set of self important blank pages with a supposed secret meaning. Yes, I did find that first story annoying. It’s been done before in other guises, and I was just not excited. If I had picked up the book for something other than review, I probably would have not gone any further than that first story. I did, though, and like our mythical box of chocolates, I discovered after my first bitter taste, there really were good pieces in the box.

This is a book people will love or hate, or like “The Book” in the collection, people will rave over and others will wonder why. I am on the fence about it. Part of me really just didn’t enjoy much of it, the other part found those secret gems and treasured them, small bits of joy to savor as a special treat. Overall, I remain unsure. I might open it, and try again with those pieces I found less than enjoyable, and see if the pages take on more meaning, or if they remain as they were, self aware, overwritten and empty. Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day is hard to make a recommendation on, it’s a “you’ll love it or hate it” kind of book. I am lukewarm. Still, there are those hidden gems, so, if you have the time, give it a look, and remember there are hidden pieces lurking there, tiny bits of brilliance worth the hunt.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars | Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) | Pages: 224 | Source: Publisher | Buy on Amazon

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