This textured and heart-rending novel explores the dynamic of a Midwestern Jewish family in the booming post-war 1950's. Twins and their older brother endure covert abuse and neglect from parents who are pillars of a small suburb. The story is told unflinchingly in the first person by one of the twins, in a narrative which is by turns, poetic, fierce, funny, sad, and joyous. The book assembles itself into crystalline vignettes which particularize and celebrate life, landscape, and characters. In the end, it is tale of the resilience of the human spirit, and the endurance of love against overwhelming odds.
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About the Author
Ron Friedman (1951-) was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He lives in Pepper Pike, Ohio with his wife and dog, and spends vacations visiting his children in Ohio, Boulder, CO, and Chicago. He has lived in New York City, Wilmington, Ohio, and in Chinle, Arizona on the Navajo Indian reservation. He has worked as a a truck driver, fork-life operator, on the county road crew, as an advertising copywriter, and a sheep-herder. He is a lighting designer and the principal of Art & Science Lighting Design, a Cleveland, Ohio consulting firm. Night Shines as Day is his first novel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Night Shines as Day based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
In Night Shines as Day, we meet Danny Feldstein, a man created, a man possessed, a man who is tormented and blessed with the curse and gift of hyper-consciousness. It is the story of a man who rises, innocently and violently, as a child, from the dark underbelly and meaninglessness of American suburbia that is hidden beneath the faux security and embrace of the white picket fences and small towns that dotted and defined the geographical and psychological landscape that was the 1950's. Thrust into this budding, unforgiving universe, Danny Feldstein searches for any signs of warmth and kindness, any flower from which to draw a single sip of nectar. His childhood's memorable moments are constricted and asthmatic, both respiratory, and in nearly every other way imaginable. He sings along, but his deliberately chosen notes, however well intentioned, usually fall upon deaf ears, and at best, engender criticism, leaving him empty and devoid of song. Freedom and joy are rare in his world, found sometimes in something so simple as the swing of a bat making contact with the ball on a warm summer night. As a child, Danny Feldstein is haunted by events that most of us took for granted. He is amused by the irony of almost everything. He is beaten and battered, cuddled and abandoned, left to fend for himself. He is an accessory to the mayhem and the mischief. He is Peck's Bad Boy with an identical twin, both in fraternity, and in that which makes Peck's Bad Boy bad. Through Feldstein's eyes, author, Ron Friedman, strips away the concealing veneer of that budding suburbia and reveals the true Ward and June Cleaver who cultivated each and every one of us. Nurture is a rarity in Danny Feldstein's world. His father is the center of Danny's solar system. The man, an enraged sun, provides warmth to the village that he creates, and yet burns those to whom he is supposed to be closest, leaving behind, needless to say, the charred remains of an enraged son. Friedman writes in the first person, so convincingly, that one wonders to what extent, if any, he is the real Danny Feldstein. If so, he can walk among us and keep his demons at bay. Friedman is a keen observer of all before him. He has rapier sharp eyes, and a wit to match. He makes monumental, images of ordinary people and ordinary places. He stimulates all of our senses as he takes us to places, in Updike fashion, where we can see, hear, taste, touch and smell, the sentinel events of his main character's youth, anything but quiescent, pupal stage, and restless emergence into adulthood. Through what is presumably Friedman's own childhood vision, he launches us, at rocket speed, into the time tunnel, whirling us back to our own youth, to interactions and confrontations with family, neighbors, co-workers and friends, all of which contributed to the development of our own being. He takes us to places, both real and emotional, that we have all but long ago forgotten. Night Shines As Day is a reflection. Mirrors reflect, but not always what one wants to see. The book takes us on what must be the author's deeply personal journey from the cold hard darkness of night, into the chilling warm brightness and fragile safety of day. Through it all, Danny Feldstein, or perhaps Ron Friedman, comes to grips with his roots, and recognizes the inevitable cycle, as he blossoms and becomes a man, a man who chooses to live the remainder of his days in light, instead of darkness.
Night Shines as Day is the story of the Feldstein twins, Danny and Dooney, and their older brother Joel, "aka Jo-El", who would like to be Superman. The boys belong to a Jewish family that is prominent and respected in a small, Northern Ohio suburb in the 1950's. The private faces of their parents, Howard and Faygie Feldstein, however, are somewhat different than the friendly, upbeat ones they display in public. At home, Howard Feldstein expresses the rage that is a souvenir of his own unhappy childhood. As he uses sarcasm, name-calling, belts, and fists on his children, his wife, Faygie, turns away, dreaming of a happier, more accomplished life. Both parents tell their children they are lucky, and everything is just as it should be. The book, which traces the lives of the boys and their parents, is written in a narrative voice that is clear-eyed, fresh, insightful, and wide-ranging as the emotions it conveys. It takes the reader to Texas, Arizona, New York City, and on a journey through trauma. The portraits of family life, characters, and the first-generation Jewish neighborhood in the post-war boom are as unique and vivid as you will find anywhere. The author's description of the feelings of children whose parents say one thing, and do another is a perfect bulls-eye. The ending is a moving, tour de force declaration of redemption. Night Shines as Day is a rich, daring, sad, funny, and ultimately wise novel that packs an emotional wallop. Don't miss it!