The young man has never been afraid of hats before. In fact, he’s recently found himself admiring them. The hats on the heads of the men in this town have actually seemed to him quite marvelous.
The television thinks it knows better than the family that’s sitting there staring at it.
Why do they watch this garbage? it thinks. It’s so empty — so stupid, so dumb.
So the TV decides to stop showing the family football and game shows and soaps, and instead it shows them only educational programs. Mostly opera, and shows about Churchill.
The TV really likes Winston Churchill.
The family, on the other hand, does not.
Why does it only show opera? they say. And what’s with all this Churchill stuff?
— from The TV and Winston Churchill
The economical writing makes me feel as if I stumbled across a secretive stash of poetic tales written only for my enjoyment. Because of Loory’s masterful conjuration, every precise word he places in the narratives acts like a world-weary, yet determined, salmon swimming home upstream; his salmon leap past hungry grizzlies and then suddenly spot Bigfoot on the river’s shore, where, in the next moment, UFOs may land and doorways, perhaps, open — every nuanced phrase becomes important — and even an inanimate object, a rock on the shore’s edge discovered by a duck, is known to come alive. There is no waste. Many of the tales have open endings, which enhanced the thrill in each adventure, and allowed the end-of-the-story vacuum to be filled by my trying to understand the morals left behind. Along with empty boxes, monsters on the loose, people who learn the gift of flight, or grapple with their own violent tendencies, as in the very powerful story, The Snake in the Throat, you’ll ponder how human the messages are, how relatable — a truly remarkable gift from the author, who also doesn’t beat the moral of any story into the reader’s mind.
And then the boy sees that she’s an old woman, just as he’s an old man. And the two of them are wearing their wedding rings, just as they always have been.
Oh, says the old man, I must have dozed off.
It’s okay, says the woman, it’s late.
And the two of them kiss and pull up the blankets, and hold each other through the night.
– from The Ferris Wheel
I hope you find Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day as enjoyable and fun as I did. I reread several of these stories just to see how they were constructed. Most, like the best puzzles, did not reveal the answer to the writer’s riddle. This book also made it onto my list of the best books of 2011 — and that list is coming soon! Please, check out Ben Loory’s writing and have a very Happy New Year!