“If you look hard enough into the history of anything, you will discover things that seem to be connected but are not.” So claims a character in Frederick Reiken’s wonderful, surprising novel, which seems in fact to be determined to prove just the opposite. How else to explain the threads that link a middle-aged woman on vacation in Florida with a rock and roll singer visiting her comatose brother in Utah, where he’s been transported after a motorcycle injury in Israel, where he works with a man whose long-lost mother, in a retirement community in New Jersey, recognizes him in a televised report about an Israeli-Palestinian skirmish? And that’s not the half of it.
There are books to make the reader think and then books that make the reader want to think and Day For Night by Frederick Reiken does not disappoint the intellectual reader. Day For Night is not a light read, and despite the length of the book, Reiken has written a book to make the reader stop, pause, reflect and continue on. Day For Night shows just how interconnected we are with people we deem strangers. How a middle-aged woman, in this case Katherine, sitting in the same row on an airplane as Gwen and Tim and neither know this woman nor realise she knows Gwen’s family and indeed her brother Dillon. This novel of seeming random accounts of different people are all interconnected and Day For Night continues on in this manner with shorter stories that one must pay close attention to, in order to learn just how interconnected the characters are, in this case, characters stemming from event before and during World War II. Day For Night is a book that will, if the reader allows, have a profound impact on the reader. I have a suspicion as I mature and experience more in my life that I will learn something different from this book than I have today as a 41 year-old. I am uncertain how much depth I would have found on my own when I was in college, but it would be interesting to keep track of thoughts of this book over five to ten years. Day For Night by Frederick Reiken is a complex work of literary brilliance and I would not hesitate to recommend his novel to all readers, yet I do believe one will learn more with age. I think this would be a phenomenal book to discuss with a multi-generational book group.
Frederick Reiken is the author of two previous novels, The Odd Sea (1998) and The Lost Legends of New Jersey (2000). His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker and his essays in the anthology Living on the Edge of the World (2008). He has worked as a reporter and columnist and is currently a member of the writing faculty at Emerson College.
I received a complimentary copy of Day For Night by Frederick Reiken from Reagan Arthur. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.