Them Nights Sure Are Lonely

A Small Anthology With Huge Themes

Them Nights Sure Are Lonely is a taut anthology sculpted of nine brisk stories all dealing with the rawest elements of humanity…

Loneliness. Death. Pain. Solitude.

Most of the stories are over in an eye-blink, yet belying their briefness they linger, and always provide a reason for some further contemplation.

Some of these stories touch on the paths their protagonists have taken to contend with their emotion. Mark from Dissolved drowns his isolation with that well-worn coping method of alcohol, only to realise “He found little in the darkness.” Then there’s Lily, who in The Last Train Home takes the unexpected path of humping away her loneliness, having sex with a total stranger on a train.

Bonfires deals with a man coping with the inevitable encroachment of death. His emotions bear a human authenticity. For instance, after his wife died, “he couldn’t cry. He never understood why. It was the saddest day of his life and he couldn’t express it normally”, reflecting the complexity that is human feeling.

Seconds, in a mere sharp 45 lines, explores what may be someone’s last few moments of life. Despite its concision, it’s very hard-hitting. To heighten this impact, Easley ensures we know the protagonist isn’t a wrinkly elderly person whose time has come naturally, “I’m not dying. Dying is for your eighties in a warm bed. Not here. Not now.” Here the syntax snaps and bristles down the page, deftly mirroring the panic and fear settling in upon the protagonist.

Immediately following Seconds is Freefall, about a man who realises that suicide is the only option left for him to “escape the dreary ache” of life. The way Easley describes the plight of our protagonist is entrenched with a stirring poignancy that many of us could empathise with, “He felt no kinship to those that surrounded him. They walked the same streets, and breathed the same air as he did. Yet, he felt nothing.” Again, the portrayal of solitude here is deeply compelling. In Freefall the protagonist decides to commit one final act of, what he hopes is, life-changing generosity before he ends it all. The conclusion is great, subtly dabbling in rather weighty questions of existentialism.

The final short, Drinking Buddies, is about that most potent of human emotion- love. Here, it deals with the burning torment that is unrequited love. “Jimmy kept that pain deep where no one could find it. If he could only be her friend…” Our protagonist realises he is “infatuated with a girl who would never love him the way he wanted her to.” There is an authenticity and realism to this story, and the narrative is a touch more drawn out than the others, giving you deeper room to connect with the characters.

None of the stories in this anthology have a tidy resolution. If you’re after cushy ‘Happy-ever-afters’, you should probably look elsewhere. Some of the stories end pretty blunt and abruptly too, echoing the route of escape many of its protagonists have taken. But I believe this offers you the opportunity to sketch out your own conclusions.

It would be great if the author expanded on some of the stories here as there’s a few characters I’d really like to learn more about, especially the unnamed protagonists of Seconds and Freefall, and the named protagonists of Lonnie and Lily; all four were intriguing.

In closing, a strong, tight anthology displaying much promise from the author.

– Khalid

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