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North American Lake Monsters
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Monthly Reads > LH August 2014 Read: North American Lake Monsters: Stories

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Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Discussion thread. Try to mark spoilers.


message 2: by Char (new) - added it

Char Awesome. I'm going to try to read along with this. :)


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Finished the first story. There seem to be (view spoiler) here.


Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments I read the first story. Written in a highly readable style, but I'm trying to figure out how the ending of the story connects with what happened before--(view spoiler).


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Ronald wrote: "I read the first story. Written in a highly readable style, but I'm trying to figure out how the ending of the story connects with what happened before--[spoilers removed]."

(view spoiler)

Somebody else chime in, I'm not afraid to be wrong.


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments I finished the second story but need to think about it a bit.


message 7: by Randolph (last edited Aug 04, 2014 07:55AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments I reread the second story, Happy Acre, and though I understand it on the surface and it makes sense as a standard story, I'm not sure I'm not missing a deeper meaning.


Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments I read the second story. I don't think there's a deeper meaning, though I think Ballingrud does something different with the (view spoiler) trope.

I interpret it as a (view spoiler) story because of the following details: (view spoiler)

The first two stories are examples of a certain type of dark fiction: a tragic plot with horrific elements. In Ballingrud's stories, something weird or even supernatural is the catalyst of the tragic plot. The stories in _Shoebox Train Wreck_ by John Mantooth are similar, in that the story has a tragic plot with horrific elements, though most of the stories in Mantooth's book are naturalistic. It's an interesting style.


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments I guess I was looking for another deeper meaning than just reading it as a (view spoiler)


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments SS Pretty straight forward story. (view spoiler)


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments The Crevasse. I'll have more to say about this later, spoiler type stuff. I've read this story before since I am a big fan of Dale Bailey the co-author ever since The Resurrection Man's Legacy: And Other Stories. Can't remember where though.


message 12: by Canavan (new) - added it

Canavan Randolph wrote:

The Crevasse. I'll have more to say about this later, spoiler type stuff. I've read this story before since I am a big fan of Dale Bailey the co-author ever since The Resurrection Man's Legacy: And Other Stories. Can't remember where though.

I first read this story about 3 years ago in (I think) one of Ellen Datlow's best-of anthologies. My memories of it are frankly a bit fuzzy. I recall it as a sort of of neo-Lovecraftian piece that was well-written, but didn’t quite wow me. I see from my notes that I gave it 3.5* (of 5).

In spite of my lack of participation in the group’s discussion to this point, I really am eager to start in. (One of my favorite stories read this calendar year -- and one not found in North American Lake Monsters -- was Nathan Ballingrud’s “The Atlas of Hell”.) I’m going to try and find time to crack open our book of the month later today or tomorrow.


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments The Crevasse is (view spoiler) I think the disappointment with it is it doesn't bring anything new to the table. I'm a little tired of the whole sub-genre of (view spoiler) type stories. There are only a few good writers now that are managing to transcend this sub-genre and still somehow stay in it.


message 14: by Canavan (new) - added it

Canavan Randolph, talking about “The Crevasse”, wrote (in part):

There are only a few good writers now that are managing to transcend this sub-genre and still somehow stay in it.

I wouldn’t describe myself as (view spoiler), but I still manage to occasionally enjoy stories written along those lines. However, the territory has been so extensively mined that’s it’s exceedingly difficult to come up with fresh ideas.

As best I can recall, Randolph, your comment that “The Crevasse” failed to bring “anything new to the table” echoed my own feelings. As I said before — well written, but I remember expecting a bit more from a story appearing in a best-of annual.


Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments I read the story "S.S." and now I'm reading "The Crevasse." I'm going at a good pace in reading this book, which attests to the author's writing. My rating for this book is 4 stars so far.


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments The Monsters of Heaven by far the weirdest story yet IMHO. One of those strange stories where seemingly real life is gradually overlain with increasingly eerie and unexplainable events. (view spoiler)

I'm dying to know how people interpreted this one.


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Finished Sunbleached. I'm going to hold off discussing the specifics of these latter stories until some catch up (it's still early in the month).

Let me just say, as well written as these stories are, I'm getting a bad feeling about this collection overall. Part of this undoubtedly is my very personal tastes. That's all I'm saying for now. Enjoy.


Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments Randolph wrote: "Finished Sunbleached. I'm going to hold off discussing the specifics of these latter stories until some catch up (it's still early in the month).

Let me just say, as well written as these stori..."


I have a similar feeling too. I saw all the high praise for this book--including from Ballingrud's writing peers--but my opinion is not as high. Maybe I have too high standards, for me the gold standard for stories is Borges or Ballard. For me these stories are in the 3.5 to 4 star range. I also think part of it is personal tastes, as you said.


message 19: by Joe (new)

Joe Gola | 19 comments I read the title story on Weird Fiction Review's website, and while it wasn't bad, it didn't grab me enough to make me want to read the rest of the book.


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Finished the eponymous story. I'm holding off on saying anything until later in the month or whenever somebody else jumps in.


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Really liked the last story. Say no more.


message 22: by Char (last edited Aug 09, 2014 07:23PM) (new) - added it

Char I just cracked this one open and I was tickled to see Easthampton, MA, as my town borders on it. I always get a thrill when an author or publisher lives near me, or utilizes a locale I'm familiar with.
On to the first story, then. :)


message 23: by Char (new) - added it

Char I liked the first two stories quite a bit.
Randolph, I concur with your thoughts on the first tale.
(view spoiler)


Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments Concerning the second story, I'm having second thoughts. Its not just a (view spoiler) story.

Laird Barron in a goodreads review (!) of this book, wrote:
"A bleak and uncompromising examination of 21st century masculinity through lenses of dark fantasy, noir, and horror.."


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Well there ya go. I knew y'all was smarter than me.


message 26: by Char (new) - added it

Char Randolph wrote: "Well there ya go. I knew y'all was smarter than me."

I don't know about that.

I just read SS. It was okay.


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Char Randolph wrote: "The Monsters of Heaven by far the weirdest story yet IMHO. One of those strange stories where seemingly real life is gradually overlain with increasingly eerie and unexplainable events. I'm dying to know how people interpreted this one."

I don't know what to make of The Monsters of Heaven. Other than that grief is a powerful emotion that can rob people of their realities. What did you think Randolph?


Layton (thunderinourhearts) | 10 comments I've read the first three stories so far and loved the first two and just thought the third was okay. I really don't think this collection is even about monsters though. I think the monsters are just there to bring out the qualities in the human characters the stories really focus on. Take the second story for example. The (view spoiler) only appears at the very beginning of the story. The rest of the whole story is about the aftermath. I also liked the omen in the third story. How Nick's mother talks about (view spoiler) and at the end of the story he kills one. That's how I interpreted it at least after thinking about it for a while. I'd like to hear what you guys think. :)


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Charlene wrote: "Randolph wrote: "The Monsters of Heaven by far the weirdest story yet IMHO. One of those strange stories where seemingly real life is gradually overlain with increasingly eerie and unexplainable e..."

I was hopin' you'd hep me out. For me a very melancholy story that I cannot get my arms around as far as symbols are concerned.


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Layton wrote: "I've read the first three stories so far and loved the first two and just thought the third was okay. I really don't think this collection is even about monsters though. I think the monsters are ju..."

In Wild Acre I see a regret theme. Jeremy is now wanting to face the thing he feared. He realizes, too late, that he did the wrong thing when he ran. Maybe he could have changed it, maybe not, but he knows the path he took was a wrong one because of the outcome so he'd like to have another chance. But there are no "do-overs" in life. You cannot choose the other path not taken earlier. So nothing comes. His action becomes nothing more than an empty gesture. There is no path to redemption even if he faces his fear. Maybe there never had been any "right" path to take, no good option, that's possible too. Sometimes you reach a dead end and you're screwed either way

I liked this story better after I let it "set a while."


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Thanks to Layton for pointing this out, an interview with Nathan Ballingrud: http://weirdfictionreview.com/2013/10...


message 32: by Char (new) - added it

Char Randolph wrote: "Finished Sunbleached. I'm going to hold off discussing the specifics of these latter stories until some catch up (it's still early in the month).

Let me just say, as well written as these stori..."



I finished Sunbleached last night. I absolutely LOVED it. To me this seemed to be a straight up horror story and I appreciated it for what it was.


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Charlene wrote: "Randolph wrote: "Finished Sunbleached. I'm going to hold off discussing the specifics of these latter stories until some catch up (it's still early in the month).

Let me just say, as well writt..."


Saying yes to the Faustian bargain always leaves you screwed.


message 34: by Char (new) - added it

Char Randolph wrote: "Charlene "Saying yes to the Faustian bargain always leaves you screwed"

Yes it does!


Layton (thunderinourhearts) | 10 comments I just finished The Crevasse and thought it was excellent. Best story yet. I love how when there are monsters Ballingrud doesn't really tell much about them. It really works and makes it a much more literary horror collection. I really love this so far besides S.S.


Layton (thunderinourhearts) | 10 comments I just finished The Monsters Of Heaven and though it was a weirdly profound and powerful story. Ballingrud knows how to strike a chord in me with all these stories of children getting left behind and abducted. I'll even admit that Monsters made me tear up a little. Best story in the collection yet, no doubt.


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Layton wrote: "I just finished The Crevasse and thought it was excellent. Best story yet. I love how when there are monsters Ballingrud doesn't really tell much about them. It really works and makes it a much mor..."


I thought as an homage to At the Mountains of Madness, The Crevasse was okay but I didn't think it added much, if anything, to it. The story was, once again, well crafted. I'm a big Dale Bailey fan.


Layton (thunderinourhearts) | 10 comments I agree Randolph, it was really entertaining though. I absolutely adore The Monsters Of Heaven though. It was just a weird touching story. And the ending was really depressing.


Layton (thunderinourhearts) | 10 comments I just finished Sunbeached and enjoyed it. Not as good as The Monsters of Heaven IMO but still a good story. And the descriptions of (view spoiler) was just awful.

*cringes*


message 40: by Char (last edited Aug 14, 2014 12:05PM) (new) - added it

Char I just finished the title story. I liked this one quite a bit, but it's hard to put my finger on exactly why. Also, I thought the imagery was fantastic. 4*


Layton (thunderinourhearts) | 10 comments I'm reading it right now Charlene and I love it quite a lot.


Layton (thunderinourhearts) | 10 comments Just finished the title story. I loved it at first but then it kind of tapered off. The main character was vile too. 3 or 4 stars.


message 43: by Canavan (new) - added it

Canavan Brief thoughts on “You Go Where It Takes You”.

I’m coming quite late to the party as most have already started this month’s book and at least a few have finished it. I sat down yesterday evening to read the first story, “You Go Where It Takes You”.

I thought the story was well written and — at least to a certain extent — viscerally effective, but at the end of the day I can’t say I liked it all that much. (view spoiler)

✭✭✭


Randolph (us227381) | 39 comments Canavan wrote: "Brief thoughts on “You Go Where It Takes You”.

I’m coming quite late to the party as most have already started this month’s book and at least a few have finished it. I sat down yes..."


Never too late.


message 45: by Char (new) - added it

Char Hi, Canavan! *waving*

I enjoyed your always insightful comments. I might have to read that story again. :)


Layton (thunderinourhearts) | 10 comments I read The Way Station last night and thought it was a little too weird. 3 stars

I also read The Good Husband and absolutely loved it. Some scenes even made me cringe. 5 stars.

I'll put my full review of the book up later.


message 47: by Char (new) - added it

Char I didn't enjoy The Way Station that much either. 3*

The Good Husband, though, that story was a trip. An all out 5 star YEAH for this one.

As a whole, I'm going to give this one 4.5 stars, I think.

I'm looking forward to your comments, Canavan! No one else has any further comments?


Layton (thunderinourhearts) | 10 comments Yay! I knew you'd love the last story Charlene!


Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments I am currently reading "Sunbleached". I find it excellently written and the story is really working for me.


message 50: by Char (new) - added it

Char Ronald wrote: "I am currently reading "Sunbleached". I find it excellently written and the story is really working for me."

I think that's my favorite story from this collection, Ronald. :)


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