15 June 2010

Review: Day for Night by Frederick Reiken

I have to start this review by telling you straight off that this is not going to be a review in the style in which I normally write. In fact, it's probably not much of a review at all. I have thoughts, and I'm going to share those thoughts with you.

Day for Night by Frederick Reiken is a series of stories. It is not a series of short stories or a series of interconnected stories—at least not really. It is a series of personal snapshots, each told by a different person. Characters in those stories may or may not appear in more than one story. Some people appear many times. Somehow, the core characters are tied together in the end—sort of.

Now I've scared you off, but you shouldn't be. Some descriptions of Day for Night say it's a novel about how people's lives are unwittingly interconnected. I've read that it is a kind of a fictional rendition of the game Six Degrees of Separation. Some reviewers have said it's a Holocaust novel. Others say it's about good and evil. But I don't agree.

You may call the intertwining of the characters in Day for Night coincidence, but I think it's more. It has to do with the Diaspora—ancient and recent. It concerns the idea that no one knows where all those people ended up and what they did to find comfort. It has to with individuals who have been pushed off of (or is it on to?) their intended paths by hate or by extremism or by extreme circumstances.

At the same time, the novel recalls an idea associated with reincarnation: that no matter what form your spirit takes in a particular life—male/female, rich/poor, Jewish/Christian, Western/Eastern—you are always surrounded by the people you have been close to throughout all your lives. These are people with whom you've shared an intensity, with whom you've instantly bonded, with whom you've experienced important moments.

Day for Night is somehow about all of this—of people who died or were killed in war, of people who have been scattered across the globe, of people whose spirits are woven together through time and space, of the thirty-six righteous men, of the nonlinear nature of reality.

I am not sure how to describe what I think about the novel. While I was reading it, I felt indifferent, engrossed, a bit bored, and then came round to what I wrote here. It is a book worth reading and thinking about. It is a novel that may seem profound to some, yet shallow to others. Reiken addresses such an immense concept, that I'm not quite sure I have drawn it all in or articulated it well.

Day for Night at Powell's
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Published by Reagan Arthur Books, 2010
ISBN-13: 9780316077569
Challenges: New Author, Reagan Arthur Books, 100+
YTD: 51
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: B+


Suzanne 6/15/10, 7:20 AM  

It does sound interesting though!

Suejustbooks,  6/15/10, 8:26 AM  

This is an excellent review. Before I read this book it had been compared to one of my favorite books ever, and it absolutely is not that book! So that was a negative influence, but the book screams for discussion. Your review brought out some thoughtful points that will make me reconsider some of my original thinking. Thank-you for your discussion of such an unusual book!

Word Lily 6/15/10, 8:32 AM  

I don't usually like movies that are stories of disparate characters that somehow end up intertwined, kind of sort of. This makes me skeptical about whether I'd like this book, especially when I don't love short stories to begin with.

Beth F 6/15/10, 8:47 AM  

Word Lily: I am not a fan of short stories either, but this book works if you stick with it. I'm so glad I didn't give up.

Sandy Nawrot 6/15/10, 12:20 PM  

It seems this one is a bit of an enigma, yes? I can't really tell a damn thing from any of the reviews I've read. Rebecca's was something. I tend to be a little dense, so I'm wondering if I would get it. But I may need to read it either way, just to satisfy my curiosity.

caite 6/15/10, 2:13 PM  

I think you did a fine job of articulating it. Quite honestly, if a book is that difficult to 'get', I am not totally sure I want to read it. I'll leave it for students in modern literature courses to muse on.

Julie P. 6/15/10, 2:55 PM  

You did a great job! I think you captured the essence of the book perfectly!

Meghan 6/15/10, 3:16 PM  

I definitely think you captured an important part of the book here. I don't normally like short stories, but these all had something a little more to them. I completely agree that one person might think it shallow and the next think it very complex - it's all about how deep you look into it.

Dorte H 6/15/10, 3:31 PM  

I like that you write a different review of a different book. It sounds interesting.

Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf 6/15/10, 4:11 PM  

Sounds intriguing... And one of those you'll either love or hate.

bookmagic 6/15/10, 6:05 PM  

I am halfway through this book right now and I really like it. But it isn't for everyone. I don't know how I would write a review of it as it is hard to describe. You did a great job though!

softdrink 6/15/10, 7:56 PM  

Hmmm. I'm curious, but not sure if I'm curious enough.

Beth Kephart 6/15/10, 8:07 PM  

But you see, my dear. This is the kind of review I relish.

Diane 6/15/10, 8:40 PM  

I loved the style of this review, and I am so intrigued, I need to pull this from my recent acquisition's pile soon. Thanks so much.

leeswammes 6/16/10, 5:19 AM  

That's a great review! The cover of the book looks good, so I guess the book is the sort of book for me. :-)

Thanks for your insights.

Amanda 6/16/10, 10:06 AM  

Have you read anything else by Reiken? I read The Odd Sea and The Lost Legends of New Jersey two summers ago. Both were written in this same style, but neither ended up making any permenant impression on me. I barely remember either of them.

Kris 6/16/10, 12:35 PM  

It sounds weird and interesting. Great review too...makes me want to read it.

Louise 6/16/10, 3:28 PM  

Yes, I agree with all the others above, this really sounds interesting. I also think it is great when a book/a story can evoke all those different feelings.

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