cover image Tales of Falling and Flying

Tales of Falling and Flying

Ben Loory. Penguin, $17 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-14-313010-9

Life and death are treated with equal gravity and levity in this nimble, refreshing collection of shorts from Loory (Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day). Each of these stories is a deceptively small bite, its depth of flavor often growing and lingering. Divided into four sections, the first three each 13 yarns long and the last a single story, the book engages both the profound and the frivolous. Reality flirts with and sometimes gives way to the bizarre, the economy and style of language making a man with disappearing body parts (“Missing”) and a sloth seeking work in the city (“The Sloth”) equally vivid. Each of these microcosms, whether involving well-known people and places or anonymous characters and locales, carries the appropriate emotional weight to enchant without overwhelming. Loory is at his best in worlds tilted slightly from reality involving quests tinged with mystery and heartache, such as the man seeking a woman who vanished after falling from a cliff in “The Fall” and the treasure-hunting crew that meets a different kind of siren in “The Island.” (Sept.)