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North American Lake Monsters

Stories
Narrated by: Travis Young
Length: 6 hrs and 47 mins
4 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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Summary

In this striking and bleak, yet luminous debut collection, Nathan Ballingrud, winner of the inaugural Shirley Jackson Award, uses the trappings of the Gothic and the uncanny to investigate a distinctly American landscape: The loneliest and darkest corners of contemporary life.

Ballingrud’s stories are love stories. They’re also monster stories. Sometimes the monsters collected here are vampires or werewolves. Sometimes they wear the faces of parents, lovers, brothers, or ex-wives, and sometimes they wear the faces we see in our mirrors. The people in these stories - ex-cons, single parents, unemployed laborers, kids seduced by extremism - are stranded by life, driven to desperate acts by love and a longing for connection. Sometimes they’re ruined; sometimes redeemed. They are always recognizably, wonderfully, and terrifyingly human. Even at their most monstrous.

©2013 Nathan Ballingrud (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Realism and horror

This was an excellent, ground-breaking collection. Ballingrud has a distinct authorial voice I immediately warmed to: earthy and naturalistic, he portrays perfectly, and with great compassion, characters dealing with poverty, grief, homelessness, loss, anger etc.: it is realism of the highest quality. Into this he then adds elements of horror/supernaturalism, to greater and lesser degrees depending on the story. This mix is never jarring; the weird elements work to magnify and embellish the psyches of the characters, whilst also suggesting things monstrous and bizarre just out of reach of our senses. I can't say that I have read any weird fiction quite like it before.

Special mention must go to Travis Young's narration; his tone suited these stories perfectly, and his reading was exemplary.

Do not hesitate to listen to this if you enjoy horror/weird fiction, but I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates good literature. This writer really deserves greater exposure.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for C. Bland
  • C. Bland
  • 11-01-16

Superb collection of truly original stories

These are some of the freshest and most astonishing short stories I have read in my 40+ years. They defy categorization, as most contain elements of fantasy, horror, surrealism, and mystery; but all are rooted in a tradition of emotional realism. Many critics have pointed out that these stories would be just as effective with the fantastical elements removed, which is totally true and totally misses the point; because it is the very element of the fantastical and uncanny that sets these stories in a category of their own and makes reading then such a joy. These are amazing tales that will live in your mind long after you have finished them. I strongly encourage everyone to give this collection (as well as Ballingrud's excellent new collection "Wounds") a try. You will not be disappointed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-09-18

Interesting

Some of the stories were hard to follow and I was a bit lost if they were psychological or physically happening. Sometimes I fell a little out of interest. It was pretty eerie though. With that being said, the narrator practically brings every character to life with his acting, barely a dull moment while he reads, his accent is really good too!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kevin McCoffee
  • 28-12-17

Great writing - lots of pain

I begin listen around 11:30 and finished the third story by about 2:00 a.m. The writing is great; the narration is great. (Nathan has a thing for all kinds of light, stars, luminosity, as you will see). But, man, these are characters in pain. I love the stories, but they're painful, and I don't expect to listen to three in a row again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Matt
  • 12-10-19

Great potential. Uneven quality.

First and last are good. Stories in between seem a little sophomoric. I don't think they made the right choice of narrator. His homespun accident did not suit some of the stories. Sometimes it felt like I was listening to a narration by comedian, Ron White., and it would take me out of the story.

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  • Mr. & Mrs. V
  • 29-09-19

A Masterful Collection

One of my favorite horror short story collections ever. The voice performer works well with most of the protagonists though whom we experience these stories. Creepy and heart-wrenching.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for John
  • John
  • 18-10-17

Not for Everyone

This book of short stories to me is something special. I really enjoy the literary style of the author, his descriptions and metaphots are stirring. A lot of people will say all the stories ended just as they got interesting, but I think it's an achievement that I want a novel for each of them, yet I'm also satisfied in the mystery of what comes next. I think he really captures humanities many responses to horror, especially masculinity since they're all mostly from a male perspective.

I rated the performance poorly, but that's yet again Audibles producers or engineers fault. The bayou drawl of the narrator fits most every story and the matter of fact delivery reminds you of getting an interesting story from a stranger in some bar. There are just a bunch of weird redone lines insterted 10dbs louder and with more bass. It's jarring and takes you out of the story. I can't imagine what they had to redo was any worse than the awful solution they came up with. Audible really needs to step up their game.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • travis
  • 15-01-16

A dark and realistic read.

very dark. the author
knows human hardship first hand. however endings to anticlimactic for me.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Abel
  • 14-04-15

Fantastic

great writing and tone. these stories stick with you. not so much gore but something deeper. solid

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • duck
  • 30-05-16

disappointing

it was a hard book to get through. The stories seemed good well written and all that but every story has a poor ending. It was not at all what i expected.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • TheGrathbun
  • 09-05-18

Worst book by far I have listened to.

I heard about this book from Pinterest and the arrival said the stories have her nightmares for days. I was excited as I am a huge horror fan! I was severely disappointed in the stories not being scary at all. I can't even finish the book. To bad no refund. If you are looking for scary, keep looking.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful