Rachel Simon’s debut, originally published in 1990, is a collection of stories about the struggle for love and intimacy, told from the point of view of adolescent girls, young mothers, and elderly women. Some are rooted in reality, others in magical realism, with tones ranging from serious to comic, sunny to dark. Throughout, Simon employs such a wide range of voices—sweet, shrewd, wistful, irascible, vulnerable, sensual—the Philadelphia Inquirer hailed her as “a literary ventriloquist.”
Among the highlights are “Little Nightmares, Little Dreams,” in which an elderly couple enters the unknown by trying to dream the same dream; “Paint,” in which a runaway-turned-artist’s-model provokes protests after her naked body becomes the canvas; “Afterglow,” in which a plucky thirteen-year-old playing hooky is held hostage by an escaped convict; “Grandma Death,” in which an overbearing grandmother can’t seem to go anywhere without someone dropping dead; and “Better Than A Box of Dreams,” in which a maid irritated by her boss’s dream therapy sessions dreams her own fondest wish back to life.
Little Nightmares, Little Dreams was presented on NPR’s Selected Shorts and the Lifetime program The Hidden Room. “Paint” and “The Speed of Love” were adapted by the Arden Theatre Company, and “Better Than A Box of Dreams” for InterAct Theatre, both in Philadelphia.
This 2014 ebook rerelease includes four previously uncollected stories. It also includes a new introduction that tells the story of the book’s astonishing path to publication, reveals the inspiration behind several stories, and offers wisdom from a seasoned writing friend that writers everywhere will treasure.