Raymond Chandler once said that a "good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled." When I first came to read Ben Loory's stories five years ago, I began to see just what Chandler meant. For me, these stories were, and are, a revelation: in some ways so modern, their brevity suited to our contemporary attention span, so easily consumed sitting on the subway, while wondering how a particular tale might end (I never could guess what would happen next), and yet so familiar: so like the fables, and myths, the sagas, and the dreams and the twilight zones that I have loved, that they feel they must have existed before Ben wrote them.
Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day is pure distillate of story, boiled down to the essential words that unfurl inside and take up residence, and the disarming restraint of their sinewy form only serves to bring me in closer so that I'm collected inside them, as they are inside this book, as they collect inside my memory, as they make laugh (oh so hard), cower (equally hard), and smile (hardest there is). They make me feel, for those moments when I am in them, that I have a reprieve from this world, and have really lived these stories myself, that I was part of them and those sublimely surreal other worlds that we are still left to discover in this looryverse.
The most visceral moments in reading are the ones to wait for, so absorbing you can almost reach out and touch the taut atmosphere, and the tension of the tale resolves itself inside you. Ben’s book is full of these moments, told with a direct simplicity and metre; his words wash over you, delightful and unexpected, like a convenient sprinkler on an unbearably hot day. This writing is no inch of ivory but more a paint-with-water book, the paint inked on in defined lines, just enough, mind, and you simply add your own water to a world that becomes more vivid and real every moment, and then you wipe off the brush, or eye, if need be.
I don’t want to give too much away in this review about what you will read in these pages: I will not point out favourites (though i do have them) because each of the stories has its own secrets at its core, and it’s how we reflect these stories on ourselves that we come to love one or another best. I will say that these pages are a pastiche of the paranormal mixed with some magic, deepened by dazzling darkness, populated with people, trees, ducks, tvs, the sea, and the breeze, so very many things and beings changing, and they morph before our eyes and as the characters change, we change too.
If it’s not clear by now, this is an exhortation to people that might read this review: I recommend you get this book the minute it comes out. I’m hard on books, but I know what I like, and I love this … I knew at first reading that there was something very special in these stories. I know you will find charm, and enchantment, some anxiety, some sorrow, some sweetness, and occasionally hope here. This is a breathtakingly lovely collection of little stories, so full of nighttime and day, so spare and so fine, I cannot now imagine living my life without it, and can’t for the life of me, think why you should either.