Praise for Daymares:
"Daymares is a genre-blending work containing mostly short stories but also poetry and concrete poetry (“typescapes”). Some of the stories offer twists on religious mythology, including “The End of the World,” a comical revision of the Apocalypse in which the narrator scoffs, “Mankind, shmankind!” and boffs his neighbour’s wife as the four horsemen gallop toward the annihilation of the earth into smithereens—sort of. Others, such as “A Dream About the Centre,” explore the vastness of human cognition in the blink of a waking dream. One of the most moving stories, “My Baby Brother,” confounds time and identity in exploring issues of Holocaust death, survival, and the continuity of life.
"[Zend] will appeal to anyone with a penchant for Jorge Luis Borges’ mind-bending labyrinths, paradoxes, and dreamscapes. But Zend is an original swimming in a similar stream of fantasy and dream, navigated with keen intellect and feeling for the human condition."
- Camille Martin, "Robert Zend: Dreams Report the Bankruptcy of Words," in Rogue Embryo, a.k.a. Camille Martin: a blog about poetry, collage, photography, whatnot
"Zend...displays his fascination with dreams as creative outlets; as the place where our concealed mental life bursts through each night while we sleep.
"These stories have some of the elements common to dreams--abrupt shifts in time and place, and unlikely juxtapositions of people and events. However, Zend tailors his headlong flow of words and images to give the stories a force and direction normally lacking in dreams.
"Zend was an unabashedly intelligent writer who could turn his talents to farce, as in "The End of the World," or to an inverted fable like "Antihistory," which recounts the great non-events of history. There's also a brilliant and argumentative introduction to an unpublished manuscript called "Selected Dreams," which is one of the best pieces in the collection.
"Perhaps the most remarkable inclusion is the story titled "Magellan's Tombstone," which is a reworking of the legend of the explorer Ferdinand Magellan; it is a rich and absorbing concoction of mythology, popular archaeology and science fiction."
- Virginia Beaton, Books in Canada, June/July 1991.
"Daymares is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. Zend was a literary genius able to elicit smiles, tears, and profound thought--one at a time or all at once.
"His writing is unique and unbelievably imaginative. It is rich with metaphors and allusions to a vast store of literature ranging from Nietzsche's existentialism to the poetry of Omar Khayyam to Einstein's Theory of Relativity.
"Zend's prose sounds like poetry. His poetry reminds me of those passionate presentations in the coffeehouses of the Sixties.
"This book gives us a fascinating, intimate interaction with a uniquely creative mind, filled to overflowing with myth, legend, philosophy and psychology. It is mysticism, par excellence. [...]
"I highly recommend this book for inclusion in secondary school libraries and in public libraries. It is a literary treasure not to be missed."
- Denise Gasbarri, Teacher-librarian, Douglas Road School, Burnaby, British Columbia, British Columbia Teacher-Librarian Association Reviews, Vancouver: June 20, 1991
"Daymares is a near-death reading experience.
"The collection of prose and poetry by the late Robert Zend is a portal that leads readers into an abyss and back safely out again in time for dinner.
"Daymares is about being back and forth in time, dead and alive, here and nowhere.
"'After I die,' Zend wrote in Daymares, 'Time will be Space, and I will move back and forth in it."
"Daymares, his posthumously published collection of ontological fiction, prose poetry and (what can be described only as) collage art, is an intense study of that very thought: what is time, what is space and where do we as humans sit in the equation?
"Zend explores, through his fiction, these concepts of time, space and existence. The gamut of his stories run from germane reportage of angst and glory to sublimity laced with sarcasm. In the story entitled "The End of the World" we see friends brunch pool-side awaiting the apocalypse, while a scant few pages later a reader is woven, magically, into Zend's storytelling mystery in "Daymare," which ends in a convoluted but inspired surprise.
"His writing is never stodgy. Instad Zend's poetry and fiction moves readers to ponder and re-read his words.
"Even when bordering on the self-absorbed, Zend challenges readers to look where we seldom glance--to worlds just outside the corner of our eyes.
"'Suddenly, I felt myself sink down through my skull,' Zend wrote in one story entitled "A Dream about the Centre," '... down through the half-lit snaking corridors of my intestines and pillars of my legs containing thousands of vertically running cavernous blood vessels, into the earth, below myself...' [...]
"Dear time traveller, join Zend for a trip to nowhere and back and never leave the comfort of your own home."
- Anthony Connolly, "Daymares leads readers into an abyss," Calgary Herald, August 1991
"Despite the abundance and apparent vigor of Canadian short fiction, does a depressing sense of sameness creep in from time to time? A feeling you've read more than one too many "slice of life stories about relationships," as renegade writer David Monroe has testily remarked?
"Do you find yourself wishing the giant animated Monty Python foot would descent and squash a few stacks of literary quarterlies and short-story collections back into usefully recycled pulp, accompanied by an omnipotent voice promising, "Now for something completely different"?
"If you still get misty at the thought of Franz Kafka burning his unpublished manuscripts before he died, Robert Zend's Daymares may help fill the voice.
"Hungarian-born Zend started out in the CBC basement, as a shipper, and rose to become a producer of its Ideas program. An intellectual eccentric, he independently experimented with typographic "concrete poetry" and produced fables, fantasies and tales solidly in the East-European tradition of minutely rendered angst-ridden waking dreams."
- John Moore, "And now for something completely different...," The Vancouver Sun, Saturday, December 28, 1991, D19.
"The reader of Zend’s short stories in Daymares is likely to notice that they are on a similar wavelength as the fantastical fiction of [Jorge Luis] Borges. Using surreal, mythical, or dream-like settings, both explore philosophical and metafictive concepts, toy with notions of infinity, expand the limits of human cognition, and posit labyrinthine or paradoxical quandaries, leaving the reader with a feeling that there is a mystery at the heart existence and the universe that will not yield to rational analysis."
- Camille Martin, "Robert Zend: Poet without Borders, Part 9. International Affinities: Argentina (Borges)," rogueembryo.com, February 23, 2014
Read "Introduction to an unpublished manuscript entitled Selected Dreams," pp. 3-8:
Poet Wally Keeler reading Zend's poem "The Dream-Cycle" (see text on right) at the opening of TEXTual ARTivity, an exhibition of visual poetry at The Human Bean coffeehouse in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, April 1 2014.