Julie Christine's Reviews > Day for Night

Day for Night by Frederick Reiken
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really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, usa-contemporary, read-2012, past-and-present-setting, war-conflict, usa-historical
Recommended to Julie Christine by: Jill

Written as a series of discrete, first-person stories, Frederick Reiken weaves a narrative built from the nexus of the Holocaust. In August 1941, five hundred Jewish intellectuals gathered in Kovno, Lithuania under the pretense they had been selected by the SS for specialized research and archival work. Instead, these men were taken outside the city and shot. A suggestion that two may have survived the massacre becomes the foundation of Reiken's ambitious, complex and often-lovely novel.

An attempt to summarize the story would detract from a reader's discovery of its many layers and nuances. Each chapter leads the reader deeper into a mystery that includes a 60's political fugitive, Katherine Goldman, who eludes capture by CIA Agent Sachs, a cult of wealthy sadists engaged in the torture of children, a dramatic reawakening from a coma, stories of love and cuckoldry in desperate times, an escape to the Negev desert from a mold-infected home on the Atlantic seaboard, a gifted young woman whose intellectual curiosity forces open the infected wounds of a buried past. Music, manatees, martyrs, moonlight and multiple personality disorder make for a novel that will drain and exhilarate. If you take too long to read Day for Night, you may find yourself flipping back through chapters to reorient your understanding of the many characters and their connections. But I can't imagine lingering - you will be compelled by the narrative's tension and pace to push through to the bittersweet end.

It is impossible not to compare Day for Night to the contemporary masters of interlocking narratives: David Mitchell and Michael Cunningham. Reiken's writing doesn't exhibit the same ethereal lyricism of these writers. By contrast, his characters are far more earthbound in language, emotion and action. But like Mitchell and Cunningham, Reiken writes deftly from multiple perspectives: children, women, the elderly, American, Israeli, Eastern European, the hunter and the hunted.

There were enough threads left dangling and a few grasps into a black hole of metaphysical speculation to hint at an overreach of plot. I'm still trying to determine if the many inspired parts build a coherent whole. But if a story lingers and teases at my consciousness long after I have read the end page, I know I've encountered a bit of literary magic.

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Reading Progress

January 3, 2011 – Shelved
May 21, 2012 – Started Reading
May 22, 2012 –
page 110
33.74% "'spposed to be going to a concert tonight, but I'm not feeling well, it's cold & raining & I just want to curl up & read this book..."
May 24, 2012 –
page 206
63.19% "Think I can finish this tonight...."
May 25, 2012 – Shelved as: contemporary-fiction
May 25, 2012 – Shelved as: usa-contemporary
May 25, 2012 – Shelved as: read-2012
May 25, 2012 – Finished Reading
May 26, 2012 – Shelved as: past-and-present-setting
May 26, 2012 – Shelved as: war-conflict
May 26, 2012 – Shelved as: usa-historical

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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Julie Christine :) The cut that was inspired by Julian Barnes's 'The Sense of An Ending" In this case, the ending was about 8"! Feels just great.


Julie Christine You're very silly. Dahling.


Teresa Lukey I really liked this story, but I had a difficult time articulating exactly why. I think you did a nice job of summing it up.


Julie Christine Teresa wrote: "I really liked this story, but I had a difficult time articulating exactly why. I think you did a nice job of summing it up."
Thank you, Teresa. This was a difficult review to write. Even if I were a fan of reviews that recap the entire plot, it would have been impossible to provide a coherent plot summation here! Intriguing book- well worth the read.


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