Study Guide

An Amateur's Guide to the Night

by Mary Robison

An Amateur's Guide to the Night Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Lindy, a high-school senior about to graduate, has a job waitressing and busing tables at the local Steak Chateau restaurant. An average student and an amateur astronomer, she has a Frankus reflector telescope that she bought with her own money so she can watch the night sky. She enjoys examining Jupiter and the constellations but notes that on a clear night the stars are so bright that they are swimming in their own light.

Lindy often double-dates with her mother, a young-looking thirty-five-year-old. On these dates, they pass themselves off as sisters, and it is the mother who always gets the best-looking men. Lindy’s parents are divorced, and her father has remarried and is living in Toledo. When Lindy wonders aloud what it would be like if her father came back, both her mother and grandfather respond that he had better not. As her grandfather observes dryly, it would cut down on her mother’s dating.

The two women share a home with the mother’s father, a retired, self-employed tailor. Although he claims that he sometimes forgot to tie off the threads, so that some of the clothes he made fell apart, his business was successful, and he now has enough money to take care of all three of them. Because they are all night owls, the grandfather keeps them informed of the late-night horror movies on television. The grandfather is seldom serious about anything, often resorting to juvenile responses such as “Poof you’re an egg” when the...

(The entire section is 488 words.)