Review: Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben LooryLoory’s collection of wry and witty, dark and perilous contemporary fables is populated by people–and monsters and trees and jocular octopi–who are united by twin motivations: fear and desire. In his singular universe, televisions talk (and sometimes sing), animals live in small apartments where their nephews visit from the sea, and men and women and boys and girls fall down wells and fly through space and find love on Ferris wheels. In a voice full of fable, myth, and dream, Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day draws us into a world of delightfully wicked recognitions, and introduces us to a writer of uncommon talent and imagination.

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.

As I mentioned, the reader has to figure out what each story means to them. At first this bothered me a bit. However, with a week away from the stories, I can appreciate the style a bit more. The beauty of a short story collection is that you can pick it up from time to time just to take in a quick nugget of work.

Many thanks to the publisher, Penguin Books, for providing me with an e-Galley for review, via NetGalley.

P.S. There is currently a giveaway for the book happening at Goodreads.

Book: Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day | Author: Ben Loory | Published: Penguin Books; July 26, 2011 | Format: e-Galley
Source: NetGalley | Rating: 4 out of 5

Saturday Snapshot

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.

Some photos from the past week:

Sherman and Chim Chim, July 2011
Sherman and Chim Chim
Meep and Chim Chim, July 2011
The Gray Cats
Seitan Pepper Steak
Seitan Pepper Steak and Brown Basmati Rice

I have been in a cooking mood lately. The seitan pepper steak was pretty good (recipe from the internet)! I also made the Summer Lovin’ Curried Corn and Veggie Chowder from Appetite for Reduction. I received this cookbook for my birthday, and my goal is to make 1-2 items each week. The recipes all sound delicious. In the coming week, I plan to make Butternut Coconut Rice with Broiled Blackened Tofu.

This was also a vet-centric week. I’ll spare the gory details, but Callie (not pictured) had some digestive issues and then complications from her digestive issues. She’s on some antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, and as of yesterday seems to be back to her normal, hyper self. Callie is one sensitive pit bull, I tell ya.

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I am currently reading:

Beaglemania by Linda O. Johnston

Beaglemania by Linda O. Johnston – I didn’t pick this one back up last week, but I should finish it this week.

Last week I finished reading:

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory

Collecting Cooper by Paul Cleave – My review. This was a page turner about serial killers. Some scenes were pretty violent, and the characters were mentally unstable. I thought it was a pretty good read, but some readers may be sensitive to the violence. I picked up one of Cleave’s other novels, Blood Men, at the library yesterday. (4 out of 5)

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory – This was a very fast read. Most of the stories are super short at 3-5 pages. I like short stories, but these all ended rather abruptly and left me wanting more. I suppose this is intentional on Loory’s part, but it often bothered me. Review to come.

Upcoming reads:

I’m not sure. I picked up six books at the library yesterday, even though I have a ton of other things to read. Why do I do this to myself?

Additional:

The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe Mum's the Word by Kate Collins Son of Stitch 'n Bitch by Debbie Stoller

I bought The Taken from Kobo, where it was discounted and I used a 20% off coupon. I have the first in the series, The Calling, and figured that I will like it enough (when I finally read it) to continue with The Taken. I also purchased Mum’s the Word and Son of Stitch ‘n Bitch from the used bookstore. I rarely knit these days, but I still seem to collect knitting books. Good intentions and all that.

Happy reading, everyone!

Review: Collecting Cooper

People are disappearing in Christchurch. Cooper Riley, a psychology professor, doesn’t make it to work one day. Emma Green, one of his students, doesn’t make it home. When ex-cop Theodore Tate is released from a four-month prison stint, he’s asked by Green’s father to help find Emma. After all, Tate was in jail for nearly killing her in a DUI accident the year before, so he owes him. Big time. What neither of them knows is that a former mental patient is holding people prisoner as part of his growing collection of serial killer souvenirs. Now he has acquired the ultimate collector’s item—an actual killer.

Meanwhile, clues keep pulling Tate back to Grover Hills, the mental institution that closed down three years ago. Very bad things happened there. Those who managed to survive would prefer keeping their memories buried. Tate has no choice but to unearth Grover Hills’ dark past if there is any chance of finding Emma Green and Cooper Riley alive.

Collecting Cooper is the first book by Paul Cleave that I have read. A little research tells me that all of his books are set in Christchurch, New Zealand. Cleave portrays Christchurch as the worst place on earth to live, a city full of serial killers and people down on their luck. It made me wonder if Christchurch is as desolate a place as portrayed. Apparently, Cleave is asked this question often. From his website:

In your books, you make Christchurch look very bleak. Is the city really that way? Or do you just see it that way?

This is something I get asked a lot. Christchurch is a fantastic city, I love living here, and I don’t see it in the dark way I write about it. I take everything bad I’ve learned about Christchurch and I exaggerate it for the books to create an atmosphere more suitable for a crime novel. Remember, it’s not me who sees Christchurch so darkly – it’s the characters. The books are written from the point of view of a serial killer, or from characters who have suffered and are still suffering, whose lives are in danger. Christchurch is nowhere as bad as I paint it to be – but it definitely has its dark underbelly, and it’s absolutely a perfect backdrop for my characters to live and play in. I like having Christchurch as a ‘character’ in the books now, almost an entity that makes the other players behave badly.

Cleave has written a page turner full of disturbing violence and mentally unstable characters. The story is told from alternating character perspectives, including Emma Green, Theodore Tate, Cooper Riley and Adrian Loaner – the former mental patient. As a reader, I felt for Tate despite his questionable past. What I did not realize is that Tate is featured in Cleave’s other books. The books are not portrayed as a series but apparently some characters overlap. I would like to read Cleave’s other books to learn more about Tate’s history before he went to jail.

Collecting Cooper is out on July 26th, and I definitely recommend this read to anyone who enjoys reading about crime/serial killers and can stomach reading about violent crime. The one aspect that got to me is that animals are killed in the story. I can read about violence towards people, but I am sensitive to violence towards animals. Go figure.

Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a free e-Galley for review, via Galley Grab.

Book: Collecting Cooper | Author: Paul Cleave | Published: Simon & Schuster; July 26, 2011 | Format: e-Galley | Source: NetGalley | Rating: 4 out of 5

Saturday Snapshot

Look out for my furry friends

I took this photo in May. We were leaving a restaurant and I saw this nailed to a tree behind the restaurant. This might be my motto.

Happy weekend!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.