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Lost Lake: Stories

Slouka, Mark

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ISBN 10: 0375402152 / ISBN 13: 9780375402159
Published by Knopf
Used Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Wonder Book (Frederick, MD, U.S.A.)

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First edition copy. . Very Good dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # X04C-00270

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Lost Lake: Stories

Publisher: Knopf

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


In twelve beautifully imagined stories linked by character and setting, Mark Slouka paints an unforgettable portrait of three generations of men and women under the spell of a landscape with a powerful history, and of a body of water that has a grip on their souls and destinies, defying their understanding even as it elevates and transforms their lives.

Set in a tiny Czech community on the shores of New York's Lost Lake, the stories in Mark Slouka's first collection are elegiac and expansive, illuminated by a quiet, complicated glory in the natural world and by the mysterious motions of the human spirit within it. In "Genesis," the collection's creation myth, an inspired young war veteran gazes into a cow pasture and sees the lake for the first time, and in it the chance it holds for a better life; in the exquisitely written fishing story "The Shape of Water," a young boy's recollection of a momentous catch occasions a later reflection on the elusiveness of memory and the power of invented truths; in "The Exile," a young woman struggles unsuccessfully against an adulterous passion and in the dead of night rows out across the lake to meet her lover on the opposite shore. In all, Lost Lake emerges as a place of epic significance and enduring simplicity, the source and the settling point of all stories--less a body of water than a notion, a dwelling place, a spiritual home.


"Some say the soul tempered by fire--tortured true--is the better for the trial. Perhaps it is so. But I was born between the wars," writes the narrator of this collection's opening story, "The Shape of Water." "My adventures were of the survivable kind, my tragedies ambiguous and undramatic, observed as much as felt. What formed me were anecdotes--often inconclusive, generally unheroic--connected to a particular forty acres of water. An unexceptional place. I did not choose it. And yet, if I could ever open myself, I suspect I'd find its coves there, its sleeping silt, its placental water smooth with algae ... and the faces of those I'd known revealed as clearly as if mine had been that lake of legend said to reflect the human heart."

It's an extraordinary image, and one that aptly sums up the project of this dazzling debut collection. Throughout Lost Lake, Slouka invests everyday events with an almost numinous glow. Catching fish; cleaning them; practicing knots; telling stories: these actions are windows opening onto unimaginable darkness--soldiers hanged along an avenue of cherry trees, decapitated snapping turtles crawling past their own heads, a dead baby wrapped in "the warm cave" of a coat. Ostensibly, these stories take place among a small Czech community settled on the shores of New York's Lost Lake, but they ripple outward to encompass the world. No exalted feat of nature, Lost Lake is a landscape both humble and utterly human, as we discover in "Creation," in which a dreamy farmer looks out over a cow pasture and pictures the fishing hole he will make. Nonetheless, it's still privy to the most elemental of dramas, from death ("Equinox") to adulterous love ("The Exile"). The short story is a miniaturist's art, and its success depends on a writer's ability to compress everything most essential about life--memory, guilt, sorrow, love, fishing--to fit within its brief pages. Slouka is a master. Reading Lost Lake elicits the same wonder as holding water up to a microscope for the first time: there it is, life, teeming, abundant, and true. --Mary Park

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