Night-time Stories is The Emma Press’ first short story anthology. The ten stories included were chosen by the editor, Yen-Yen Lu, from submissions exploring the theme of Night. The tales are eclectic in style and scope but all are worth reading. As always I have my favourites but this should not detract from the quality of the writing throughout.
Following an introduction from the editor, the anthology draws the reader in with The Girls are Pretty Crocodiles Now by Angela Readman. A young boy, Jonah, tells his peers he has caught the tooth fairy.
“Jonah was the sort of kid whose face looked so gleeful breaking bad news, no one could care about him for long.”
What happens next is chilling yet told with understated simplicity – a masterful flight of the author’s imagination.
Sleeping in Shifts by Winifred Monk tells of a couple, both filmmakers, who work from their home on the same projects, one by day and the other through the night.
“This is the life of those who work at home, or live at work.”
They each regard the world differently, although most of what they see is the narrative taking shape on their screen.
Whose Lounge by Leanne Radojkovich is a gloriously rational response to a young child’s question asked of their tired, single mother.
“What happens when no-one is in the lounge?”
It turns out that most humans rarely consider life that does not involve them.
Obon by Miyuki Tatsuma explores how dancing can offer an escape from the mundane, even for those who may only enjoy the pursuit when no one is watching. There is much to unpack in the truth behind what may be regarded on the surface as a happy and supportive family.
Dream Boats by Jane Roberts is less than a page in length yet paints a vivid picture of a cityscape at night, a scene that is rarely static.
(hippocampus paradoxus) by Valentine Carter is a tale I would not have expected to enjoy, anchored as it is to a sexual act. What lifts it is its current relevance, offering many layers to peel back around gender and consent. Although it is clear what is happening, the author avoids any hint of voyeurism. A surprisingly thought provoking story.
Daylight Saving Time by Rebecca Rouillard explores time travel. I enjoyed the depictions of how the mind works at night when a suggestion of possibility has been planted beforehand.
Kikimora by Sofija Ana Zovko is a story that bends reality. In this tale the narrator is dealing with grief. It may not have resonated so much with me but was still well told.
dream lovers by John Kitchen is a short, quirky love story, in which a couple get together when they realise they each dream about the same thing each night. I particularly enjoyed how it ended.
Even This Helps by Zoë Wells completes the anthology with a story of a late night shopping trip. The night sky is beautifully evoked, as is our place beneath it.
I could have flown through these stories had I not deliberately slowed down to consider how each affected me. With the variety of approaches to the subject of Night on offer there was more to chew over than may be expected in such a compact work.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, The Emma Press.