Paper pub. date
January 2004
ISBN 9780870710285 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 192 pages.

Up All Night

Martha Gies

Night, inhospitable and dangerous, tantalizes the imagination. Rarely are we awake to see it through. This fascinating collection of voices from the graveyard shift shows us who is out there in the dark while the rest of us sleep.

In Up All Night a baker, a nude dancer, a flower market wholesaler, a longshoreman, a newspaper distributor, a shelter worker, a zookeeper, and sixteen other night workers candidly share personal histories. Their stories about night work-and about their lives during the daylight hours-are often funny, often poignant. Some work at night by choice-to earn higher wages or to avoid bosses. For others, such as recent immigrants or parents with day-working spouses, their only option may be the midnight shift.

Author and night owl Martha Gies guides readers on a nocturnal tour of unique workplaces-the waiting ambulances that encircle the darkened city, the maze of conveyor belts at the industrial bakery, the Internet service provider's help desk. She visits and vividly describes the cold, gritty, and isolated settings of night work-the truck cab, the silhouetted cubicle, the empty street.

Up All Night gives us a rare insider's look at the unseen workers who keep the city humming after dark.

About the author

Martha Gies lives in Portland, Oregon, the setting for Up All Night. Her stories and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Orion, Zyzzyva, The Sun, and The World Begins Here: An Anthology of Oregon Short Fiction, and she is a recipient of the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. She teaches creative writing at Lewis & Clark College and the Traveler's Mind Workshop in Veracruz, Mexico.

Read more about this author

Introduction 1

I What of the Night? 7

  • Sativa Dancing Nude 8
  • Perpetual Adoration at St. Agatha 15
  • Ships in the Night 21
  • Rising Star 30
  • Night Bus 37

II The Chase 43

  • Night Beat 44
  • Sirens 54
  • The Legendary Judie Brown 63

III Getting through the Night 71

  • The Mission at Night 72
  • Georgia's Blues in the Night 81
  • Lullaby 88
  • Obdulia at the Rose Garden 94

IV While the Weary World Is Sleeping 101

  • Street Sweeper 102
  • From Press to Porch 109
  • Tech Support 116
  • All-Night Poolroom 123
  • Truck Stop 129
  • On the Door at Montage 135

V In Perfect Silence 143

  • Star Party 144
  • Awake at the Zoo 151
  • Mr. Thomas at the Embassy Suites Hotel 161
  • Nightly Bread 168
  • Flowers for the City 175

Acknowledgments 183

"[A] stirring collection of night shift stories… this medley of night vignettes offers a rare, intriguing look into the idiosyncratic lives of workers tucked away in the city's dark and often forgotten corners."

–Publishers Weekly

"Like Studs Terkel chronicling the lives of workers, Gies gets inside her story and allows us to get a real feel for a style of life few of us will experience. A fine example of living, breathing oral history."


"On the Skidmore fountain is inscribed: 'Good citizens are the riches of the city.' In Up All Night, Martha Gies brings many of Portland's riches to life in a very intimate way, giving an insight into the reality of the city not seen by us daytime 'normals.' A fascinating spectrum of people, a fascinating read. Once started, I couldn't put it down."

–Bud Clark, former Mayor of Portland, Oregon

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