“There Will Be No More Good Nights Without Good Nights”

There WIll Be No

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Laura van den Berg’s 2012 chapbook of nine short (short!) stories. I read a 2017 Bull City Press reprint edition.

Buy the Book.

3.5 out of 5 stars (all stories averaged).

Times Read: 1

This entire book runs the length of a short story but van den Berg packs plot, emotion, and her usual beautiful writing into each page. The stories live; the characters have a past and future and the mind tries to follow them beyond the story – the sign of a great short story writer.

I hate to admit it, but for years I didn’t think I liked female authors or main characters. This breaks my heart now and I wonder how many great books I’ve missed. I’m thankful that authors like van den Berg have shown me strong, complex, fascinating female characters that I connect to. In the past six months, she’s become one of my favorites.


[1] “Parakeets

3 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

A woman returns after an affair to find two new pets in her home.

[2] Reference:

I got tired of listening to the dentist talk about root canals and aspirators and curettage.

(p.1)

 

Curettage, in medical procedures, is the use of a curette (French, meaning scoop), to remove tissue by scraping or scooping. Curettage has been used to treat teeth affected by periodontitis.


[3] “There Will Be No More Good Nights Without Good Nights

3 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

An unseen intruder weighs on a woman’s mind.

[4]

They were standing in the gravel parking lot. She felt swallowed by her black parka. In the distance, horses galloped down a snow-covered hill, kicking up ice around them.

(p.5)

[5]

“You’re a mother,” he said. “You have to act responsibly.”

He left her standing in the parking lot, her hands buried in her pockets. The thing she hated the most about living in a small town was everyone knowing what you are.

(p.7)


[6] “To the Good People of Mars

4 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

The daughter of a failing marriage dreams of space.

This one almost made me cry.

[7] Reference:

Charles Simonyi, a Microsoft executive, paid the twenty-five million dollar orbiting fee and started training at a space center in Kazakhstan.

(p.9)

 

Charles Simonyi (b.1948) is a Hungarian-born American computer businessman. He was head of Microsoft’s application software group. In April 2007, aboard Soyuz TMA-10, he became the fifth space tourist and the second Hungarian in space. In March 2009, aboard Soyuz TMA-14, he made a second trip to the International Space Station. (Random: he dated Martha Stewart for 15 years, until 2008.)


[8] “Photography

3.5 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

A grieving woman watches her neighbors.

[9] First lines:

The neighbors were at it again. Mrs. Masiki stood in the living room, naked, while her husband took pictures.

(p.13)


[10] “Lake

2 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

A couple spends the summer in a mountain house.

This is the only story that doesn’t come to life. It’s a bit too vague.

[11] Reference:

She knew there was a legend about dogwoods, but could never remember what it was.

(p.17)

A page on Bower & Branch tells the legend of the dogwood tree. In short, a dogwood tree was used for Christ’s crucifix. “According to the legend, the Dogwood tree felt great sorrow for the role it played in Jesus Christ’s death. While on the cross, Jesus sensed the Tree’s anguish, and he alleviated it by changing the nature of the Dogwood Tree forever. From that point on, the Dogwood (…) would become a small understory Tree with thin, twisted limbs. It could never be used in crucifixion again.”

[12]

She wanted so badly to reach him, she would have swum across the lake to meet him, if that’s what it took, and she knew this was a feeling to be appreciated.

(p.17)


[13] “Something Thrilling and Heroic and Strange

3.5 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

Sheila wants a new life.

[14]

“We’re not in the business of helping mass murderers,” the woman said.

“Of course,” Sheila said, “my situation is nothing like that.”

“Stop thinking of it as a ‘situation,’ ” the woman said. “This is your life.”

(p.20)


[15] “Reptiles

5 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

A couple opens a doomed reptile shop in a mall.

This is it. Worth the price of admission. “Reptiles” is incredibly rich for three pages. It will live in my memory as strongly as a full novel.


[16] “The Golden Dragon Express

3 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

A family’s traditional Friday night Monopoly game goes about as well as any Monopoly game.


[17] “Cannibals

3.5 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

Cannibals come to live in suburbia.

[18] Reference:

Our parents were ornithologists and had gone to New Guinea to study the Alpine Pipit.

(p.32)

 

The alpine pipit is a bird found in New Guinea. It’s conservation status is “Least Concern”. (Apparently, there’s not much more to say about it.)

[19] Reference:

[The number] belonged to a riverhouse in Boca Manu, where they had been staying.

(p.33)

 

Boca Manu is a town located in the Province of Manu. It had a population of 63 in 1993.

Manu Province is one of three provinces in the Madre de Dios Region of Peru. The capital of Manu province is the city of Salvacion.


There Will Be No More Good Nights is only recommended for van den Berg fans. Because I enjoy her work so much (and because I read her other work through the library), I was happy to spend $12 to read this paperback. Most people won’t pay that amount for 30-something pages of text, and that’s fine. But if you get an opportunity to read this (especially “Reptiles”!), take it.

Next Friday, Tommy Orange’s critically acclaimed There There.

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