Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory

Published July 26, 2011.

Loory's series of forty short stories, with their stripped and finely-tuned prose, weave seamlessly between the dream world and reality, between light-hearted anecdotes and nightmarish fables. In Loory's world, trees walk and talk while an octopus lives in the next door apartment. Televisions sing opera, men find invisible crowns, and books without words are best-selling novels. His tales introduce the reader to people living among monsters, skydiving moose, Martians that keep house, and quiet men who write poetry, all finding themselves in bizarre and sometimes terrifying situations. Despite the great diversity of these stories, the characters are tied to each other-and the reader-by the familiar emotions of fear, desire, and the consequence of action. Not always as it seems, these strange characters and places invariably show us ourselves, leaving us to question the limits of human morality, perception, and truth. (

The blurb there really pulled me in. A collection of short stories with a little bit of horror, a little bit of sci-fi, a little bit of everything. It sounded right up my alley. And it really wasn't bad but it left me wanting. Not necessarily more stories but more out of the stories that were already in there.

There's a thin thread of similarity among all of the stories - there's something not right about them. Whatever it is, the ending will twist. The degree of that twist isn't always the same but they're strung together by a hint of the macabre in each. That I really did like. There wasn't a story in this anthology that I didn't like.

Kind of in that same vein they were so short that I think that was a big reason why I couldn't find one that I didn't like. All of them had enough to pull me in and hold on to me, with endings that were more often than not abrupt but still provided a punch. But at the same time they were so short that, for a lot of them I felt like I couldn't get too much out of them. There were some that did well as short stories, written succinctly and that the voice did it a service. One that really stands out in my head is with a little boy crawling through a water tunnel trying to find the end and getting stuck. The ending to that one is phenomenal.

But by the end of STORIES I was a little done with the writing. It's a very simple type of style that I think works really well in small doses and fit many of Loory's shorts but reading one after another in the same tone just got a little boring for me. While the subjects of the stories differed, the voice was the same in every single one of them. Aside from the short I mentioned above, not too many others really stood out to me because the voice blended them all together. I would have liked to have seen different tones for the different stories in STORIES. I think it would have made them pop a little more and differentiated each a little better.

But I would really recommend this one. It's short and to the point and really, the shorts are pretty good with some really good twists. But the voice just got to me after a while. I was looking for something different by the end. I know a lot of people like that simpler way of storytelling, straightforward and to the point with zero fat, and like I said above, it can fit, but it was a bit of an overkill here. I would have liked either a shorter book or a greater tonal variety. But still, read it. The stories are great and all are some level of creepy. Just keep your eye out for the voice. The one lone voice throughout the anthology. You might be better able to stomach it than I could but even if not, I'm sure you'll still like what you're reading.

Ban Factor: Medium - The creepiness in these stories is of the subtle variety so it would take your smarter than normal banner to pick up on that. Never say never.
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