The miniature stories of A. L. Snijders might concern a lost shoe, a visit with a bat, fears of travel, a dream of a man who has lost a glass eye. Selected from many hundreds in the original Dutch, the stories gathered here are something like daybook entries, novels-in-brief, philosophical meditations, or events recreated from life, but might best be described as autobiographical mini-fables.
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.
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.'
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.