By Ben Loory
Published by Penguin Books
Copyright © 2011
I really enjoy a good short story, unfortunately Ben Loory’s “Stories for the Nighttime and Some for the Day” doesn’t contain one. Okay maybe that is a bit harsh. There were 5 or 6 stories that I found interesting and some even slightly amusing. Most of the 40 stories in this collection, however, were lost on me.
Ben Loory’s aim in these stories seems merely to be to write an odd story. Now I’m all for odd stories, they are actually my favorite kind. This is the reason I initially picked up the book. So, let me begin by saying what I liked about his stories. I liked the way he broadened the definition of a character and the anthropomorphizing of many common objects and various animals. Beyond this though, there are a few problems with Ben’s stories that are just hard to overcome.
One problem is that he rarely gives his characters names. His characters are usually just referred to as “the man”, “the woman”, “the boy”, “the girl”, “the duck”, “the moose”, “the house”, and so on and so on. (See the character comment above.) This makes the characters rather nondescript for me. I guess one might choose to forego names if it wasn’t pertinent to the story, and I guess you could argue that it isn’t important in his stories, but it can be hard to truly get invested in a character that doesn’t have a name.
Another problem is that most of his stories don’t seem to have a logical plot, climax, or resolution. There is no point to 75% of the stories. There were many stories that I began to like and I’m looking forward to some kind of legitimate conclusion or closure and it just never comes. I would often back track to find something I missed, maybe there was some kind of moral lesson that I was missing, but in most cases it wasn’t there.
Maybe I’m a simpleton but often I just didn’t get it. I’d be following the story just fine and then I’d get to the end only to be confused or let down. Maybe I’d get more out of each story if I took some time to really mull over and dissect them, but who wants to do that.