Day for Night by Frederick Reiken
Published by Reagan Arthur Books, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company
The are novels, there are short stories, and there are novels in stories, which follow the same characters through different periods of their lives in a short story format. And then there is “Day for Night” by Frederick Reiken.
“Day for Night” is unlike any other book I’ve read, in that it is essentially a series of short stories that are somewhat but not entirely interconnected. And yet it was also a sort of novel. Instead of giving the depth of its story as experienced by a few characters like most novels, it instead gave the breadth of the story by focusing on a different set of characters whose lives interacted with one another in each of ten stories.
If you’re not quite sure what Reiken is doing here, it can be a little scary, because you’re wondering when these characters are going to reappear, how he’s going to pull everything together. But, if you’re reading carefully, he tells you exactly what it is that he is doing:
I recognize that we are all magicians in some way. We are complicit in all we see and comprehend that what we see will never coincide with absolute reality.
As a result, the human brain must make a narrative. This I can say with certainty, and yet each narrative we choose will reach a point at which it no longer suffices. One narrative must inevitably be abandoned for another. In this way, any narrative sequence defers meaning, even beyond the point at which it appears to end.
When I read that passage, I felt comforted, I was able to let go and accept that everything might not really wrap up with a neat little bow (and it didn’t) and that was okay. I still don’t think I would like to read this sort of book on a regular basis, but Reiken’s strong sense of where he wanted to go with the story and his gorgeous writing made me really enjoy “Day for Night” and helped me be okay with not having everything come together.