10

A collection of fantasy stories, multiple authors, I read it in 1982. Thick book, I think paperback, cover art possibly light blue. I think the book had "fantasy" in the title, I don't think it was a "best of", nor do I remember any famous names associated with it.

I remember something about two stories from it:

  1. Behind the scenes fairies?/elves?/angels? construct the staging of the world each day, putting up the mountains etc. When something goes wrong so they can't get it in time, the director?/god? has them make fog instead.

  2. Follows the activities of a nice old man(woman?) around town, in parallel follows the activities of a nasty old woman(man?) around town. At the end discover they are a married couple, each asks how the other's day went, the next day they go out with roles swapped.

My google skills have failed me. Anybody recognize this?

  • I vaguely recall something like the second story studied in one of my early school classes, but I'm not able to pin any details either. – Radhil Jul 28 '18 at 13:42
14

The first story sounds like "Yesterday Was Monday", a short story by Theodore Sturgeon, which was also the answer to this old question (among others). It was first published in Unknown Fantasy Fiction, June 1941, available at the Internet Archive.

Harry sat down on a grease drum and wrinkled up his brains with the effort he was making. "You mean that this time proposition ain't something that moves along? Sorta—well, like a road. A road don't go no place—You just go places along it. Is that it?"

"That's the general idea. In fact, that's a pretty good example. Suppose we say that it's a road; a highway built of paving blocks. Each block is a day; the actors move along it, and go through day after day. And our job here—mine and the little men—is to . . . well, pave that road. This is the clean-up gang here. They are fixing up the last little details, so that everything will be ready for the actors."


The second story was identified in Mark Mills's answer as "One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts", a short story by Shirley Jackson. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1955, available at the Internet Archive. In the following excerpt, Mr. Johnson has just come home after spending his day being pleasant and kind to people:

Mrs. Johnson came out of the kitchen and kissed him; she was a comfortable woman, and smiling as Mr. Johnson smiled. "Hard day?" she asked.

[. . . .]

"I didn't do so badly," Mr. Johnson said. "Couple young people."

"Fine," she said. "I had a little nap this afternoon, took it easy most of the day. Went into a department store this morning and accused the woman next to me of shoplifting, and had the store detective pick her up. Sent three dogs to the pound—you know, the usual thing. Oh, and listen," she added, remembering.

"What?" asked Mr. Johnson.

"Well," she said, "I got onto a bus and asked the driver for a transfer, and when he helped someone else first I said that he was impertinent, and quarreled with him. And then I said why wasn't he in the army, and I said it loud enough for everyone to hear, and I took his number and I turned in a complaint. Probably got him fired."

"Fine," said Mr. Johnson. "But you do look tired. Want to change over tomorrow?"

"I would like to," she said. "I could do with a change."


Both stories appeared in A Treasury of Modern Fantasy, a thick (xvii+588 pages) trade paperback anthology edited by Martin Harry Greenberg and Terry Carr and published in 1981. I believe that's the book you are looking for.

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  • Hmm. "Yesterday was Monday" doesn't have the bit I remember about using fog to cover up being behind schedule. And clearly this book is full of famous names! But aside from that you seem to have nailed the book. I'll chalk those discrepancies to faulty memory on my part, and accept your answer. Thanks! – ronen Jul 29 '18 at 13:38
  • @ronen You're welcome! As for faulty memory, could it be that you're remembering stories from two different books? Can you remember any other details from the story with the fog? Maybe you shouldpost that as another question. – user14111 Jul 29 '18 at 21:31
  • yes, I had that same thought. I can't really remember any other details, other than a sense that the story was lighter-hearted / less mean-spirited than "Yesterday was Monday". When I get a chance I'll post a separate question for it. – ronen Jul 30 '18 at 13:55
  • @ronen You should unaccept my answer and accept Mark Mills' answer, since he correctly identified "One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts" and I merely added the wrong answer "Yesterday Was Monday". You can unaccept an answer by clicking again on the green check mark. – user14111 Jul 30 '18 at 21:50
  • generous of you, but you correctly identified the entire book, which is what i was ultimately looking for. – ronen Jul 31 '18 at 13:14
8

The second story is "One Ordinary Day with Peanuts" by Shirley Jackson. It has appeared in many anthologies but I hope this can help track down your specific book.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/457070.One_Ordinary_Day_With_Peanuts

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