Like Davis, Snijders can compose rich, complex life studies in just a handful of sentences, extracting profundity from the absurd, and vice versa. Their sensibilities are so well matched that one can hardly imagine a better translator and interlocutor for him than Davis; that kinship is likely why this collection feels so smartly, exquisitely wrought ... At his best, Snijders sends a reader shooting across one of his loosed synapses. None of his zkv’s are ever tied up neatly ... Night Train doesn’t include the dates of Snijders’s stories as a collection typically might, an editorial choice only worth mentioning because for many years, writing was reputedly a daily practice for him ... his stories mark time—of days, thoughts, memories, encounters—yet as he himself believed, it is fiction that renders time immaterial.
... a shapeshifting amalgam of fable, zen koan, commentary, lyrical essay, and autobiography. As an immersive foray into the unknown, the instability of Snijders’s narrative form produces a trompe-l’oeil effect 'indistinguishable from the truth,' giving the reader a sensation of being at once disoriented and illuminated ... The Dutch author vividly demonstrates how recreational play and a passion for one’s calling are one and the same...This sense of work as both duty and pleasure represents Snijders’s netsuke approach to literature—intricate art designed as miniature toggles for the necessities of our daily existence.
Many of the pieces read like brief, personal reflections, on experiences and memories ... The mix and overlap of the real and the invented, and the back and forth between them, is central to much of the writing ... Appealing, too, is that there's nothing preachy here, as Snijders' pieces are observational rather than judgmental ... The endnotes also helpfully explain many of Snijders' references; presented just as notes (i.e. not marked in the text proper) they are also completely unobtrusive ... Night Train is a nice little sampler of Snijders' distinctive variation on a kind of 'flash fiction.'
Davis’s notes to the stories give us...detail, including derivations of Dutch idioms and sayings. But curiously she doesn’t address at any length a striking feature of Snijders’s stories: so many of them turn on certain small linguistic oddities or ambiguities ... There are the pieces that seem like simple, almost sentimental ... Spare but touching glimpses of family life and its tiny but aching realizations; meditations on age and wisdom, as if Snijders were a nineteenth-century diarist or miniaturist man of letters—some of these fragments read as though excised from a longer, more properly literary, body of work. As an adept of reduced forms, Snijders is quite without the melancholy of Robert Walser, but neither does he craft the crystalline peculiarity of a contemporary short-story writer like Diane Williams ... structure and pacing Snijders’s works vary greatly; perhaps the most notable thing they have in common is a tendency for characters to appear from the distant past, wandering back into the octogenarian’s small but skewing orbit.
Throughout, there’s a good deal of attention paid to dikes and honeybees, adding up to a multidimensional evocation of rural life in Holland. One has a feeling, at the end of each sketch, most of which fit on one page, that Snijders has left nothing unsaid, summing up each with a perfect declaration.
Snijders’ stories focus on the quotidian: animals seen from his rural property, paragraphs and poems he reads that strike his fancy ... For all their brevity and mystery, these stories ultimately touch on the way that perception, language, connection, and an appreciation of the natural world give depth, even joy, to life. Deceptively simple, disarmingly charming.