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Vacationland Paperback – March 25, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press (March 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816687668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816687664
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Naledi Lodge, a near-abandoned lakeside resort set deep in northernmost Minnesota, now exists almost solely in the minds of those who crossed its rustic threshold. Meg, the granddaughter of the proprietor, currently splits her time between Minnesota and Chicago, painting lakeside scenes and wondering what has become of the summer residents she used to know so well. Vacationland is a novel of intersecting stories, including Meg’s own. While each character shares Naledi Lodge as a common bond, some characters continue to connect in new and surprising ways long after their summer vacations have ended. With a diverse cast, including a philandering ad man, a pair of elderly sisters on a Kevorkian mission, an addiction counselor from a tony detox center, and a refugee from Sarajevo, Stonich displays formidable narrative skill. While the novel presents brief vignettes in the lives of several characters, each interconnected story is given its own true, clear voice. Vacationland is compelling, witty, and nuanced, an incredibly enjoyable glimpse inside the worlds of seemingly disparate individuals. For fans of Richard Russo and Margaret Atwood, this is a brilliantly engaging novel, focusing on the power of memory, new discoveries, and shared experiences. A triumph. --Stephanie Turza

Review


"Vacationland showcases the incredible talent of Sarah Stonich. Without flinching, Stonich leads the reader through the seemingly harsh and overwhelming landscape of northernmost Minnesota and reveals the heart of the characters who occupy this space. Vacationland, in her capable hands, becomes a destination that you will want to visit again and again." —Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang



"Within Vactionland, Stonich collects the lonesome souls of a beguiling, timeworn place and gives us profound glimpses into their hopes and sorrows. By turns funny, haunting, and heartbreaking, she finds the universal in the specific, the deeply human in the parochial and peculiar." —Peter Bognanni, author of The House of Tomorrow


"In prose that is incisive and elegant, Stonich beautifully inhabits the hearts and minds of a richly diverse set of characters." —Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls


"Each chapter renders a story complete, and the stories together weave a deeply mined narrative of place and people, elegiac yet life-affirming." —Kirkus Reviews

"Stonich displays formidable narrative skill. While the novel presents brief vignettes in the lives of several characters, each interconnected story is given its own true, clear voice. Vacationland is compelling, witty, and nuanced, an incredibly enjoyable glimpse inside the worlds of seemingly disparate individuals. For fans of Richard Russo and Margaret Atwood, this is a brilliantly engaging novel, focusing on the power of memory, new discoveries, and shared experiences. A triumph." —Booklist, starred review 

"A brilliant collection of linked stories centered around Naledi, a fictive northern Minnesota fishing resort. Naledi inherits in Stonich (“These Granite Islands”) a chronicler with storytelling gifts reminiscent of our most holy mother of the frozen north, Alice Munro. She has a similar flair for ferrying readers back in time for several pages, deepening our regard for a character, then softly dropping us back into the present without a moment’s confusion or jostling. Stonich is also funny as hell, not the easiest thing to pull off in serious literary fiction. " —Star Tribune

Customer Reviews

Well written and beautifully descriptive.
Rosemary Woodward
This is a great compilation of stories all centered on a small resort in northern Minnesota.
MN Reader
I read nearly the entire book in one sitting; I just couldn't put it down.
TJ Conley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Larry McMullen on June 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In VACATiONLAND, Sarah Stonich has created a cast of characters, cleverly woven into 15 chapters that could stand alone as 15 short stories, but are most effective as a novel. I found that although there are an extraordinary number of characters to remember, by including each in the stories of other individuals, the author gives the reader an 'aha' moment when one discovers how they relate to Naledi (the Northern Minnesota resort...the most important character of all) and the other characters.

The quirky personalities whose lives intertwine in often unexpected ways are handled with humor and pathos, in a sympathetic, but never sentimental style. Stonich examines the extreme difficulties of human communication in relationships that are the most basic to our daily struggles. Youthful awakenings, disappointments, finding one's passion, coping with crises and sudden death and aging, all are found in these stories. There are those who find love and companionship in unlikely places, people who hide their feelings and those who are completely lacking in compassion.

As a visual artist, I found Meg to be extremely believable in her passion for capturing her world in a way that expresses her history and Naledi. Vac, the grandfather who raised her, is easily the most complicated and endearing character, who forges relationships with others in an unspoken, but determined way, often to the benefit of characters who need to find their way.

VACATIONLAND is a mighty good read!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Will Weaver on May 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
It has been said that an author needs to sell the reader on the "small lies" (details of place, physical description, 'been-there' facts) before the reader will accept the "big lie" of the plot. There's no better example of this than VACATIONLAND. Sarah Stonich's precisely rendered landscape of Minnesota lakes country, and the rural/urban clash of those who live there versus those who "vacation" there, is a meticulous case for the power of description. None of the stories are rushed. Each is carefully constructed and deeply inhabited by the author. The effect of this is like encountering some very fine, hand made object: our first reaction is, "Wow, somebody put a lot of work into this!" Which is clearly true of this story collection. VACATIONLAND also has a 'bonus feature'": each story is linked to one or more in the collection, and finding those human threads of connection is just one more pleasure you'll get from this book.

Will Weaver
author of Sweet Land, a short story collection

P.S. While we're both Minnesota authors, I don't know Ms. Stonich. I heard of this book, bought it, liked it a great deal.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kayak Jay on March 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
I grew up in northern Minnesota. I read the book looking for familiar territory. I found a universe populated with people I know, in a montage that crossed time and space. The only solid point was Naledi. The characters were created in depth, and you could understand their lives and challenges. When I finished this book I had a new group of friends. Every person in the book was an image of people I have known, yet a totally new portrayal. The disjointed presentation enhanced my ability to know and appreciate the characters and their interactions. Actions in one chapter illuminate and explain actions in other chapters. The separate stories interact and accrete into a feast for the mind.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Prittinen on July 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Oh, how I loved this book! Having grown up in northern Minnesota, and worked at a mom-and-pop resort on Lake Vermilion, I felt I could recognize every character in this book. Each chapter was brilliant in its portrayal of the lives of small town Minnesota. This novel is firmly in my top best-ever-read books, and I read forty to fifty books a year. I believe Sarah Stonich has moved herself into the realm of Louise Erdrich and Barbara Kingsolver with the publication of this novel. It is the perfect book for a summer weekend at the lake, or a winter snowstorm at the lake, or a fall afternoon at the lake, or a rainy spring day at the lake. All of you who dream of living at the lake will love it, too. It is an absolute gem of a book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rachael T. Hanel on July 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
I started Sarah Stonich's Vacationland on a trip to Minnesota's North Shore, somewhat near where the stories in the book take place. But even had I not started the book in the piney, rocky, lake-filled North, I still would have been just as absorbed and captivated by the stories.

I don't read fiction often, but the positive reviews upon Vacationland's publication inspired me to get the book. I was not disappointed. Each interrelated, yet standalone, chapter centered on the Naledi resort in fictional Hatchet Inlet, a skipping rock's throw from Ontario. Vac, the Croatian immigrant who started Naledi and his granddaughter, Meg, form the heart of the stories. Each chapter builds upon the other to reveal another dimension to these main characters. At the same time, each chapter reveals another facet of Naledi and the people tied to that place. Rather than a book that offers a straight-up biography of a character, this book reads like a biography of a place. By the end of the book, I was invested in Naledi's fate. What would become of this once-thriving resort? What does it mean to be tied to a place?

Stonich offers rich descriptions and vivid imagery. There's a certain darkness to these stories, which is probably one reason why I enjoyed them so much. Perhaps dark is not the right word--"real" might be more appropriate. There isn't any candy-coating or white-washing of reality in these stories. The opening chapter centers on a severed hand; that type of situation sets the tone for the entire book. From there we read about a lost girl (whose favorite author is Edward Gorey), sisters contemplating euthanasia, and people estranged from their families for various reasons.

All of the stories are connected to Naledi, and all of the characters are connected to each other.
Read more ›
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More About the Author

Sarah Stonich is the author of internationally acclaimed "Vacationland" and the novels "These Granite Islands", and "The Ice Chorus", stories which have left their marks on readers around the world. The paperpback version of "The Ice Chorus" is now available. Her memoir "Shelter" came out to rave reviews and won the NEMBA award. Visit sarahstonich.com for more
From Sarah:
My latest book is a bit of a departure for me, a volume of interconnected stories, Vacationland. The main character is a crumbling resort - currently occupied by the immigrant builder's granddaughter - a 40-ish painter who's come "home" after her divorce. Various visitors to the place tell its history over a span of 40 years, weaving around the place with a just a degree or two of separation between each character. I'm now writing American River - a family saga spanning three generations.
More at sarahstonich.com

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