Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day, by Ben Loory

Many people don't like short stories, but I have always had a particular fondness for them. I believe that it takes an incredible amount of skill to craft a really good short story, not necessarily any more so than with a full-length novel, but certainly of an entirely different breed. A successful short story will often leave you breathless, as it can pack an emotional wallop that novels sometimes lack. A good short story can lay bare a writer's soul in a way that longer books sometimes cannot, because their core is wrapped in layers of plot and nuance.

Ben Loory's stories are more fables and fairy tales than anything else, and they are incredibly powerful. Absurd and surreal, they all point to our intrinsic nature and the vicissitudes of humanity. Chief among his motifs is the person who becomes utterly enthralled or wrapped up in one single thing - an idea, person, object - that it consumes them; it is only when that thing is gone, either taken or destroyed or set free, that the person realizes s/he has been missing out on the loveliness of real life. This shows how we can become so wrapped up in our own dramas that we forget to enjoy life for what it is, and sometimes when we realize that, it is too late.

These are not easy stories to read, tiny though they are, and that's what makes them such brilliant gems.


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