Nocturne: Nine Stories & A Play Raymond L. Boyington


Published: August 15th 2012


105 pages


Nocturne: Nine Stories & A Play  by  Raymond L. Boyington

Nocturne: Nine Stories & A Play by Raymond L. Boyington
August 15th 2012 | ebook | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, talking book, mp3, ZIP | 105 pages | ISBN: | 5.74 Mb

Jack A. Urquhart’s insightful review stated all the pertinent facts about the late Peter Bell’s writings, so I will turn immediately to my own impressions, which are eminently favorable.Four of the stories in the collection particularly stick in my mind.First, the title story, “Nocturne,” a study of a psychologically troubled child forced to exist among parents and others who are indifferent to his psychic difficulties. The story reminded me of Conrad Aiken’s “Silent Snow, Secret Snow,” where another child gradually descends into psychosis unnoticed. In both stories the child makes every effort to dissimulate, to hide his strangeness from everybody, and in both the child succeeds so well that the only possible outcome is one that shakes and shocks the reader.Second, “The Enemy,” where an Arab fighter (a mere boy) and an American (we presume) are thrown together in a shed during one of our current wars.

Somehow even in these brutal circumstances they manage to achieve a certain level of the empathy that makes us human, something war attempts to destroy. The Arab says it: “We are only taught to have enemies,” whereupon another shocking ending ensues, one which only reinforces this intense tale’s denunciation of war.Third, “The Wound,” an understated, unsentimental, yet hauntingly emotional story of waiting for death. The story was originally written in French and is here translated with beautiful sensitivity by Jack A. Urquhart.Finally, the strange ghost story, “We Have Always Been the Same Person,” which is the longest tale in the collection and the most ambiguous.

Told in the first person in a quite formal literary style, it contains meticulous description. The narrator meets with a ghost who appears to be the same person as himself, only in female form. Perhaps that’s the key – coming to the realization of one’s sexual identity. The end seems to imply that the purpose for the continuing existence of the hotel has now been realized. However, the last paragraphs of the tale explain nothing- they purposely leave it up to the reader to interpret the meaning of what has happened.

One can even quote the last few lines without giving anything away:“ ‘What am I supposed to believe?’ I blurted in desperation.“ ‘You should believe what you think is the truth,’ Laurent answered, quickly and decisively.“ ‘And how am I supposed to know that?’ I finally queried.“Laurent said nothing.“He still has not answered my question.”I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys well-written short fiction.

Peter Bell displays a true affinity for his craft and it is indeed a sad loss to literature (and on many levels) that he lived only to the age of 35. Now, however, thanks to the collection’s editor and publisher Raymond Boyington, Peter Bell’s achievements will not be forgotten.

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