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.
“Relentlessly observant, miraculously expressive, these are stories that see through the mirrored surface into a hidden yet strangely intimate world.”
— The New York Times Book Review
“I love this artistically brave book. In his longer stories, Slouka paints large canvases of time, death, love, nature, longing, and humor. I am happily astonished by these sensuous, mystical, wise, romantic, and passionate stories, whose cadences and arches remind me of Faulkner. And it's the best writing about water I've read since A River Runs Through It.”
—Andre Dubus III
“I have never been so moved as I was reading this elegant and frankly poetic collection of stories.... [T]he hallmark of a really fine short story is that in its abbreviated space it nonetheless manages to contain everything. Certainly this is true for Mark Slouka, who holds life up to his jewelers eyepiece and shares with us his amazing vision.”
— Elizabeth Berg
“So rich and affecting that it incorporates all kinds of influences while remaining singular and quite unforgettable.”
“Slouka flashes forward and back in time with astonishing alacrity and skill.”
“Dazzling... A work of extraordinary intelligence and sensitivity.”
—St. Petersburg Times
"Mr. Slouka is an important writer, and [Lost Lake] is, quite simply, wonderful."
—Dallas Morning News
"Mark Slouka's Lost Lake marks the debut of a powerful new lyric voice, a sensibility and artfulness partaking of the feel of memory - of beautiful evocation - through which fully created people breathe, people whose stories move us in exactly the same way that we are moved by the mysterious workings of certain dreams; with a visceral shock to the senses."
"A beautifully written, precisely seen series of stories about fathers, death, exile, sex, and fishing. Each of them seems to contain a world. Together they make a picture of the emotional lives of men - who they are, and how they got to be that way. Dark territory, illuminated."
“Remarkable by any measure, but all the more considering that this is Slouka's debut.... On nearly every page sentences approach the lyricism and rigor of observation of an Elizabeth Bishop poem.”
—Boston Book Review
“[Lost Lake] shows us how richa a life can be if one can feel, listen, observe and understand.”
“Sensual, elegiac nature writing and complex, full-bodied stories”
—San Jose Mercury News
“The range of emotion and experience in Lost Lake is panoramic, the sense of mystery as deep as the lake itself.”
— The Commercial Appeal