Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Mistakes by the Lake

Rate this book
Set in Cleveland, Ohio, from its earliest beginnings as a forested frontier to the urban blight of modern times, Mistakes by the Lake is a collection of ten thematically-linked stories spanning the many faces of the city’s history:

--a motorman navigates his 1920’s back-and-forth trolley until he snaps;
--a stockyards knocker encounters the Virgin Mary during the 1954 World Series;
--a wannabe wrestles his unruly mind along the flammable 1960’s Cuyahoga River;
--in a reinvention of Henry IV, a young man must either stick with his bumbling criminal crew or uncover legit ways to support his mother and transgender Gramps.

206 pages, Paperback

Published May 28, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Brian Petkash

1 book6 followers
Brian grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, a focal point of much of his writing (and much of his sports heartache). A former high school literature and creative writing teacher, he lives in Tampa and works as a marketing professional in both the game and comic book industries.

Brian holds an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Tampa. His work has appeared in El Portal, Bridge Eight Literary Magazine, Southword, and Midwestern Gothic.

Mistakes by the Lake, his collection of stories published by Madville Publishing, is out now.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
7 (53%)
4 stars
5 (38%)
3 stars
0 (0%)
2 stars
0 (0%)
1 star
1 (7%)
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews
Profile Image for Lori.
411 reviews10 followers
August 19, 2020
I appreciate the atmospherics of this collection of 10 stories which are centered around a lake I frequent.

Each story teaches us to be honest with ourselves and recognize that choices provide the construct of our lives and have an influence on the people we care about. What I like best is the stories provide an exploration of the fundamental aspects of humanity.

I received a copy of this book through the generosity of the author.

In truth, there's loads of history in this cleverly written collection and it was great fun to follow along and study those subjects I didn't know well.
Profile Image for Hollis Queens.
Author 7 books1 follower
April 23, 2020
I'll always remember the Little League Pledge, and the part promising 'but win or lose, I will always do my best' reminds me there is beauty in the effort.
Brian Petkash's story collection of historical fiction relating to Cleveland, Ohio is linked not only in place, but in the shared struggle as people strive for a better life. Unfortunately for Brian's characters, they are not completely successful in their endeavors, but their stories are no less beautiful (and beautifully told).
I met Brian at the 2020 AWP Conference in San Antonio, Texas while I was meeting up with other University of Tampa MFA graduates. He was kind enough to sell me his last book, and I started reading it on the plane/train ride home to my own struggling town that shaped me.
The stories are told in chronological order, culminating in the title novella. While we have previously gotten shorter narratives, small snapshots of different people striving for a better life, the novella allows the us to spend more time with one character. Like Cleveland, like us, the young man in "Mistakes by the Lake" has a history and has choices to make. There is a link between these ideas that is revealed as the story slowly unfolds like a crumpled newspaper.
For a sneak-peak, check out his webpage where Brian Petkash gives a behind-the-scenes look at the history behind the stories - https://brianpetkash.com/behind-the-s....
Profile Image for Jennie Rosenblum.
1,004 reviews31 followers
August 10, 2020
Chronologically from past to present, this author presents a novella and collection of short stories circulating in Cleveland. All of the stories are character-driven with Cleveland as the base. If you are looking for happy endings – this is not it, but instead, through serious and intense characters, your heart is tugged through emotions.

At times I needed to set the book aside until I felt strong enough to pick it back up again. And I did want to pick it back up as the book is compelling. The stories ranged from children dealing with survival to adults going past a point where survival was not working. A solid read.
80 reviews4 followers
July 29, 2020
Mistakes by the Lake by Brian Petkash is a collection of nine short stories and a novella, which has the same title as the book.

In the first nine stories, each of which is almost ten pages long, we met several people- Jacob, Oswald, Jerry and Johannes amongst others. The last story, titled Mistakes by the Lake, is about Hal and his friends who do odd jobs, as deconstructors, to earn their income. They also have secondary sources of income, most of which are not appreciated by people in general. Hal's life keeps taking unexpected turns and he has to face them all keeping his sister, Sally, alive in his mind. We also get to read about the womderful Gramps who is a well-written and strong character.

The stories are really well-written and have a unique plot but then we do expect nothing less from an awarded author like Petkash. Dealing with loss as a theme, each of them has characters that have made some mistakes in the past and are bearing the consequences in their present life. The stories are all placed in Cleveland and chronologically spread giving a vibe that instances of the lives of several people are being shared over a period of time. Although I loved the unexpected twisted endings, the grief and death that formed the centre of the stories was too much for me to deal with. The characters are such that it becomes difficult for the reader to take sides and identify right and wrong. With a gorgeous cover, this book is for you if you can bear wonderfully written, sad stories.
Profile Image for Rutuja Ramteke.
1,519 reviews53 followers
July 31, 2020

This is a very beautiful and authentic collection of stories, all the ten stories have one thing in common, they don't leave the readers once you start reading. Most of the times, while reading short stories, I feel they are usually plot driven but I loved this book more because the stories are character driven, within very few pages, you get to met characters who are going to stay with you and make you feel good, bad and are going to evoke all sorts of feelings in you.
The book is titled after the last story in the collection, every story is different and unique, they are set in different years, right from 1796 to 2013, the author provides a variety of elements which makes this a multi genre read.
It was definitely breathtaking at times, it was fast paced, the language is moderate and is understandable by all but if you are a beginner you might take some time to get into the writing style. I loved the second half of the book more, I will definitely recommend it to everyone. It's definitely a book that's worth all your attention and time.
Rating: 4🌟
Profile Image for R. Johnson.
Author 5 books35 followers
August 22, 2020
Outstanding debut. You'll still be thinking about the stories in this book weeks after you read them.
3 reviews1 follower
April 30, 2021
The characters who struggle to improve their situations and whose lives don’t turn out. Without
sentimentalism, the author leads you to experience depth of their desires and disappointments. You can’t help but feel empathy for them because they are us. The last story can be a great movie.
124 reviews
March 19, 2021
All over the place and not very interesting. The longest "chapter" was a rambling story about a young man with no direction. It wasn't interesting and it was pointless. Don't bother reading.
Profile Image for Elizabeth McCulloch.
Author 1 book27 followers
May 30, 2021
I enjoy books of stories that travel in time through a very particular place, such as Sandra Lambert's The River's Memory, and now Brian Petkash's Mistakes by the Lake, set in Cleveland. As I read the first, gripping story about an early settler's harrowing journey, I was struck by the narrator's voice, As the stories ranged from 1769 to the present day, the voice, whether first or third person, changed in tone and diction, making the characters and the times vivid and distinct. None of the stories are predictable - you may encounter a tragic street car driver who "lived and lost his life in tiny increments" through the many years of driving his route, or a boy who reluctantly dons a hot werewolf costume to please his mother, grieving for another son, and goes out trick or treating. Petkash's exuberant prose and unforgettable characters make this a collection well worth reading.
Profile Image for Colleen Durda.
Author 1 book3 followers
March 6, 2022
I spent the heart of my formative years in Cleveland's suburbs and I found this book mesmerizing. Brian Petkash uses many different writing styles in describing the city, casting a spell with each short story. The reader wades deeper into the narrative as time changes the city, yet certain elements remain constant. A remarkable debut from an author with a bright future.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.