Day for Night by Frederick Reiken – Book Review

4691989009 3636b464da m pictureDay 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.

P. 133

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.

Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells
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A local independent bookstore via Indiebound
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Amazon
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This review was done with a book received from the publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

14 comments to Day for Night by Frederick Reiken – Book Review

  • You probably liked this a bit better than I did, but I am glad I read it. It was interesting and certainly calls for discussion.

  • Your review is fantastic! I enjoyed this book and appreciated the writing, but I’m not sure I totally got it. I’ll add your review to the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge blog.

  • I really liked this book, but I definitely wouldn’t want to read something like it on a regular basis! I just loved the little hints that Reiken slipped in throughout. I’m not sure I got everything, but I’m not sure I was supposed to.

  • Amy

    What a great quote! I really want to read this after seeing so many great reviews.

  • Great review! I totally agree with you. I just had to “let go” and appreciate the writing. If I found myself thinking too much or asking too many questions, I got overwhelmed.

  • All good advice if I ever take the plunge. Seems like alot of work for a summer read!

  • I have seen a lot of reviews for this book, but I am still not sure if it is for me. I don’t usually like short story compliations. I read so many short stories during the school that I usually take a break from them in my free time. Your review makes me think I should check it out though. Glad you liked it.

  • diane

    So glad u liked this one; hope to read it soon!

  • Cool! This sounds like what one of my profs in grad school referred to as a short story cycle. Part short story collection, part novel. It sounds great!

  • I’m always up for something new and this one sounds great!

  • I’m reading a short story collection now. I have read collections where the stories connected but only lightly. I think I’ll look a little more into this one.

  • It’s interesting how the author can recognize the basic human need for satisfying narrative, but yet create a story without it. My need for narrative is too strong — I felt toyed with — denied. Having said that, the writing is beautiful and the concept was original, so I will still recommend this book to the right reader.

  • This book sounds pretty fascinating to me. I would love to see how the author works all those stories so that it makes some sort of cohesive whole (even if it is not all neatly tied up in the end.)

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