One Before Bedtime- N.S. Johnson

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Here we have an interesting montage of short stories, which actually are ‘just the ticket’ to set the dreams rolling as one lays down one’s head. Well, a couple of the stories may cause nightmares, but at least one won’t be worrying about the unfilled tax return, or how about how to get to work and the kids to school. We are all different, so do bear in mind that horror does creep from the page to the dark.
I really enjoyed the way the words are put together as much as the stories themselves. Johnson writes very easy prose. The writing often has the grace and effortless flow of swans on water, with the sometimes surprising and unsettling flurries of that species. Swans have their warning hiss, and sudden explosions of power.
As the cover says, there is certainly mystery and fantasy in these stories, though perhaps suspense is rather over egging the content. These are short stories, some of which have strong impact, but suspense usually conjures up rather longer drawn out tensions. It wouldn’t be right for the cover wording to attract someone expecting the tension that it is hard to generate outside of a novel, for them to then be unjustifiably critical because of unsatisfied expectation. I’m sure I will revisit one or two of the stories that particularly grabbed my uniquely raised attention, these being the ones with a more speculative, metaphysical bent to them.
This is a short book of short stories that really are best read one at a time, as each one deserves some time for reflection. I decided I was doing both Johnson and most definitely myself a disservice by reading the book in one sitting. So I actually re-visited to read most of the stories again, one at a time. The whole book is short, not just each story. I hope that you will agree with me that twenty six stories would have been better than thirteen. I’m not thinking in terms of cost in coin.
The stories finish with the now rarely used word Cockaigne- a suitable name for a land of nod. SweetBerry dreams!

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