I could say so many wonderful things about North American Lake Monsters without telling you how much it's going to hurt just to get you to open the cover, but you deserve better than that. Nathan Ballingrud's first collection of short stories is brutal. I read most of the stories in this book stomach clenched in horror and breath catching in my throat. There are no happy endings and there are certainly no heroes, though the last few stories do have a touch of sweetness. These are stories about the down-trodden and damned that bare no sentimental ideas of redemption–just folks being folks hardly phased by the sometimes horrific supernatural because real life has already treated them so terribly. The thread that ties this book together is monsters and I can tell you there are plenty here, and as uncomfortable as I was reading it, I loved every second of it.— Heather's Staff Picks
Nathan Ballingrud's Shirley Jackson Award winning debut collection is a shattering and luminous experience not to be missed by those who love to explore the darker parts of the human psyche. Monsters, real and imagined, external and internal, are the subject. They are us and we are them and Ballingrud's intense focus makes these stories incredibly intense and irresistible. These are love stories. And also monster stories. Sometimes these are monsters in their traditional guises, sometimes they wear the faces of parents, lovers, or ourselves. The often working-class people in these stories are driven to extremes by love. Sometimes, they are ruined; sometimes redeemed. All are faced with the loneliest corners of themselves and strive to find an escape. Nathan Ballingrud was born in Massachusetts but has spent most of his life in the South. He worked as a bartender in New Orleans and New York City and a cook on offshore oil rigs. His story "The Monsters of Heaven" won the inaugural Shirley Jackson Award. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with his daughter.
About the Author
Nathan Ballingrud: Nathan Ballingrud was born in Massachusetts but has spent most of his life in the South. He's worked as a bartender in New Orleans and a cook on offshore oil rigs. His story "The Monsters of Heaven" won the inaugural Shirley Jackson Award. He lives in Asheville, NC, with his daughter.