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Lost Lake: Stories Paperback – May 21, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375702083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375702082
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,038,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"A particular forty acres of water," a peaceful, manmade lake not far outside New York City, connects these 12 poignant short stories and the vital, multigenerational cast of characters inhabiting them. A narrator named Mostovsky (we never learn his given name), the son of Czech immigrants now grown into a husband and father himself, pensively plumbs his boyhood memories?real and apocryphal. The often lyrical pieces not only portray his experiences fishing and exploring but also recall tales he heard or imagined about the lake's creation near the start of the century, about war, intrigue and bloodshed back in his family's homeland. Others deal with the subtle dynamics among his neighbors and with private thoughts he could not have understood as they were happening. Slouka's prose is elegant and rich in unexpected metaphor as he explores the varying forms and faces of expatriation. He finds patterns and forces of nature as evident in the lives and history of the people around him as in the wind, trees, fish, animals and insects of the lake. One of these stories, "The Woodcarver's Tale," won a 1997 Harper's National Magazine Award in Fiction. It is the harbinger of what should be an impressive career.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This collection of essays and short stories is poignant. My eyes frequently teared over. It is rare, I think, to find lovely, melancholy tales that question love and sense of place and are written in a male voice from a male perspective. "Lost Lake", due to the finely crafted writing and the emotional chords it struck, has now been placed in a section of a bookcase where I safely guard two dozen books that are very important to me. Highly recommended for all readers, but particularly for men who see the world with a sensitive perspective, and who search to provide themselves with an emotional sense of time and place.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eileen G. on April 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was disappointed at first to see that these stories are loosely bound to a 'theme': one locale ("forty acres of water") one family (started in Czechoslavakia, emigrated to NY), and some ... fishing. I needn't have worried, because there is a world of experience and observation in these, along with masterful, thrifty use of language, attention to detail - and much love, yearning, and compassion. The voice is constant and consistent; the stories are told meticulously and with great clarity. "The Woodcarver's Tale," centered on the narrator's father, is heartbreaking. In "Equinox" Slouka combines the mundane and the tragic - seamlessly. A very satisfying collection of stories.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book brought me more reading enjoyment than any I have read in a number of years. Slouka has a talent which only some short story writers possess--the ability to pull you into the narrative with the first sentence or two. The character insights are first-rate and each story is a polished jewel.
A great read!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Polkadotty on January 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Mr. Slouka is a fine writer. His words are beautifully strung together, his vision of the world elevates the mundane into poetry. For this reader, such writing is much like a fancy cake or bonbon ~ the gorgeous product of excellent talent and grand effort. Best read in small, savored bits. Recommended.
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More About the Author

Mark Slouka is the internationally recognized author of six books. Both his fiction and nonfiction have been translated into sixteen languages. His stories have twice been selected for inclusion in Best American Short Stories, and his essays have appeared three times for Best American Essays. His stories, "Crossing" and "The Hare's Mask," have also been selected for the PEN/O.Henry Prize Stories. In 2008, he was a finalist for the British Book Award for his novel The Visible World, and his 2011 collection of essays, Essays from the Nick of Time, received the PEN/Diamonstein-Speilvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. A contributing editor to Harpers Magazine since 2001, his work also appears in Ploughshares, Orion Magazine, Bomb, The Paris Review, Agni, and Granta. A Guggenheim and NEA fellowship recipient, he has taught literature and writing at Harvard, Columbia, and University of Chicago. He is currently living with his family in Brewster, NY.

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