cover image Lost Lake: Stories

Lost Lake: Stories

Mark Slouka. Alfred A. Knopf, $21 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-375-40215-9

""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. (May)