FLY BY NIGHT by Randall Jarrell


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A warm, wispy, enfolding dream of owls in their nest and of David, who can fly at night, with a bed to return to. It's not really flying, just sort of floating on his back, and here he floats (passively as in a dream) from his own bed, through his sleeping parents' room, then outside past cat, mice, a rabbit, some sheep. . . unable, when he tries, to speak or move. Still floating he follows an owl to its nest, where owlets are lulled by a five-page, rhymed bedtime story but David's eyes won't close until, again guided by the owl, he's back in bed. Next day there's something in his own mother's look--but the memory fades with the streaming sun and morning orange juice. Hardly a story, and the ""Bedtime Story"" is slack as a poem compared to the animal portraits in The Bat Poet (1964). Despite their thematic relationship the two parts don't synergize. (Who knows what Jarrell had in mind?) Still, more than the poem, the framing prose has a hypnotic pull that Sendak's reverberant, finely crosshatched drawings intensify: his floating, naked figure becomes obsessive here--older, thinner, more vulnerable than Micky, closer to the echoing strangeness of The Light Princess (1969), but more complex and haunted.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux