Cover Image: Beautiful Days

Beautiful Days

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Member Reviews

This was a dark and ominous collection of short stories that made me feel off-kilter at the best of times. Unsettling in a very raw way, think Black Mirror meets Leave the World Behind. If you enjoy things that make you question reality and existence then you’ll probably like this debut.

I, however, am not the key demographic for this type of narrative. I didn’t enjoy the angst and discomfort I felt while reading and honestly felt stressed as I started each new story. I will say that the writing was really good and I can see Zach having a bright future in the literary world. I’ve been vacillating between 2 and 2.5 stars for a week. Still can’t decide how I really feel so I’ll just leave it at that.

Big thanks to Doubleday for the #gifted copy and digital arc via Netgalley.

𝙿𝚞𝚋 𝚍𝚊𝚢: 𝙹𝚞𝚗𝚎 𝟷𝟷

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After reading these stories, I’ve decided that I was not a good target audience. There is no denying that they are well written but I failed to understand the author’s intent.

Thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for the ARC to read and review.

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Thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday for the ebook. This book of short stories is grounded in both the every day and the fantastical, mostly within the same story (A father gives his young son a bath an finds that somehow he now has an extra toe). The standouts are a family on vacation who can never leave, as they get older and their young child doesn’t. A man who goes to check on his elderly neighbor and finds an unexplained stranger in the house. It opens with a small office drama that feels inconvenient as much as it does sinister. This is such a nice start to this writer's career.

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Beautiful Day is an unsettling collection of stories about ordinary people who experience bizarre and threatening happenings in their lives. It is not a stretch to call it metaphysical fiction, and it is intended for readers who are drawn to those kinds of stories. Think of the TV show Severance, the Academy Award-winning movie Everything Everywhere All at Once., or possibly David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas or George Saunders’ stories. If you are a fan of any of these, you are likely the perfect reader for this collection.

In Trial Run, the opening story, a man living alone after a contentious divorce finds himself in his nearly empty office on a snowy day. There are only two other men there: an unraveling co-worker and a tightly coiled security guard. Lately, some disturbing viral messages have been coming in, and suspicions are running high. As he cautiously listens to the ramblings, his sense of safety becomes increasingly violated. What is really going on here?

In another, Wood Sorrel House, one of the longer pieces, an ordinary couple is transfixed in some sort of pastoral reality. The couple has a little boy; even though the parents grow older, the toddler shows no signs of getting older.

In Neighbors, another ordinary couple who are struggling with the aftermath of infidelity moves to San Francisco in the hopes of “redrawing the map” of their marriage. Yet what awaits them is a strange occurrence in a neighbor's home. In another, a man connects with a woman who wants him to have sex with her while her husband watches from the closet. He imagines the husband as virulent. After he finishes the deed, he is shocked to discover the truth.

A number of authors whom I greatly respect hail this collection as brilliant, and if I were a critic, I would agree. It takes a great appreciation of the absurd and the perverse, and as I read on, I became increasingly certain that I was not the right reader for this particular collection. As a result, I feel uneasy providing a rating, which is required. I am tremendously grateful to Doubleday and NetGalley for the opportunity to be an early reader and recommend the book to those who are more comfortable with the genre.

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