Night Begins the Day
Night Begins the Day is a story written by shukyou. It ran in Issue 56 at http://s2b2.livejournal.com/315497.html, and is mirrored at http://www.shousetsubangbang.com/mirror/night-begins-the-day/.
A Jewish man disconnected from his upbringing re-finds meaning in traditions.
Eventually, his parents had talked Lemuel down to only two Transformers figures, and those he would carry in his pockets instead of his hands. Asher had not been there for the negotiations, but Lemuel recounted them in great detail in the car, several times over. "My pockets, not my hands, Uncle Asher," Lemuel said for about the twenty millionth time.
From http://fairyninjas.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/ssbb-56-out-of-this-world/: "A fantastic novella (two parts) about a Jewish young man and a young man who is simply Jew-ish, and how they might, maybe, make things work. A great look at how things can be out of this world, even when they are still here on Earth."
From http://harmless-one.livejournal.com/39472.html: "The story focuses on two complicated men ("modern, sensitive guys" as one of our heroes describes himself and his new lover) who meet and hit it off. The two have a lot to deal with, from issues of faith, mental health, sexuality and everything in between. A very emotional, thoughtful story."
From pinboard.in: "Asher and Dov have an instant connection at a party with friends and family of people on the autism spectrum, but they hit a few bumps in their relationship negotiating their different approaches to Judaism."
This story features, though only briefly, key characters from Bodies in Space.
Full disclosure: I am not remotely Jewish.
Instead, I've known a lot of Jewish folks over the years, both as friends and as academic colleagues, so a lot of the various Jews portrayed in this story have real-life inspirations, if not direct parallels. I've known very few dedicatedly Orthodox folks, but I've known a lot more who either were raised in or flirted with Orthodox traditions before wandering to more liberal waters. So the odds that I have misrepresented some texts, traditions, and/or translations are very high, and for that I apologize for not having a whole lot of firsthand familiarity with the particulars. I tried to double- and triple-check everything, though, so hopefully I didn't screw up too badly.
The title is taken from the name of an exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. When I was there at the end of June, I had the good fortune of being able to drop in, and it was a neat collection. Even better, though, was the idea behind this collection, which can seem at points pretty dang random. But it isn't! Instead everything's together with these ideas of space, time, light, and dark. Sometimes the connections are tenuous, but they're there to be made.
Which, I figured, was not a bad start for a piece whose connection to the theme is pretty tenuous -- at least, if you're expecting 'out of this world' to mean science fiction, and then you stumble across a story about two perfectly terrestrial Jews. But really, it's all about the Sabbath, which is supposed to be as removed from the everyday world as much as humanly possible. The true meaning of the word 'sacred' is 'set apart', so if something is holy, it is by necessity removed from the mundane.
I also felt pretty good about doing this theme wrong because of its connection to another story I did very wrong very rightly: Bodies in Space, which was a super-mundane send-up of the super-out-there theme Weasels Ripped My Flesh. The issue is full of all these adventures appropriate to the wacky macho manly-man men's adventure concept behind it, and then I got to close everything with a very small adventure and a much more quiet commentary on masculinity. Here, it's a whole issue of high-flying alien space adventure, and I get to close everything much closer to the original context of the phrase 'stranger in a strange land'. Some days it's good to be The Editor.
That is, of course, Rick and Isaac from Bodies in Space there in the first scene, three years after their original story, still together and now happy in their apartment together. I did mean to have a scene in the second half where Rick and Asher talk, but I just plain ran out of space and had to wrap it up (ha ha, tefillin joke). You can rest assured that they're doing just fine, though.
- pinboard.in: "This sounds like it would be a heavy read but it's not - it's absolutely lovely and real and fascinating. The theme of this s2b2 issue was 'out of this world' and it's really interesting that the author has chosen to explore an 'alien' culture, as Dov tries to understand and reconcile Asher's orthodoxy with past hurts of religious conservatism. I love the surrounding characters too, their respective networks of family and friends from all backgrounds and lives, all entwined because of love."