Ben Loory is an LA based writer. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Wigleaf, on one of my favorite radio shows This American Life, and in so many other places. He has two books, one being a collection of short short fables called Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day, from which we are talking about 3 pieces!
Loory’s work is marked by its brevity and impact. He can say more in a few hundred words than most can say in several thousands. That said, at times in Stories for Nighttime I found myself asking the question, ‘so what?’ I couldn’t always source any clear meaning or takeaway. But any project such as this is bound to have a few unclear answers that make the shining gems really stick out.
Today, we’re talking about three stories, “The Book,” “The End of It All”, and “The Walk that Replaced Understanding.” I’d like to consider them all together – not based on plot, but on technique and style, because I think they best represent what Loory is trying to do with short fiction and when it works:
- I’ve most often heard Loory’s stories referred as ‘tales and fables.’ Do you agree with this? If so, how do you see these stories as differing from fables of old? What sets these apart as fables in a modern world? How are they similar?
- What is Loory doing with characters in these stories? How do they function and how do they differ from your traditional character?
- One thing I love and HATE about these stories is how bald they are of detail. There’s almost no physical description to work with, just the bare bones. Do you think this works in favor of the stories? How so?
- Loory is also a screenwriter, and took time off to write this collection. How do you see this impacting his work and syle? How does it shape the stories he tells?
I’d seriously recommend picking up a copy of this at the library. If not because it is an insane journey in and of itself, do it because the stories are short enough to read during the commercials of whatever show you’re binging these days.