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Sarah Stonich
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    On a lake in northernmost Minnesota, you might find Naledi Lodge-only two cabins still standing, its pathways now trodden mostly by memories. And there you might meet Meg, or the ghost of the girl she was, growing up under her grandfather's care in a world apart and a lifetime ago. Now an artist, Meg paints images "reflected across the mirrors of memory and water," much as the linked stories ofVacationlandcast shimmering spells across distance and time.

    Those whose paths have crossed at Naledi inhabitVacationland: a man from nearby Hatchet Inlet who knew Meg back when, a Sarajevo refugee sponsored by two parishes who can't afford "their own refugee," aged sisters traveling to fulfill a fateful pact once made at the resort, a philandering ad man, a lonely Ojibwe stonemason, and a haiku-spouting girl rescued from a bog.

    Sarah Stonich, whose work has been described as "unexpected and moving" by theChicago Tribuneand "a well-paced feast" by theLos Angeles Times, weaves these tales of love and loss, heartbreak and redemption into a rich novel of interconnected and disjointed lives.Vacationlandis a moving portrait of a place-at once timeless and of the moment, composed of conflicting dreams and shared experience-and of the woman bound to it by legacy and sometimes longing, but not necessarily by choice.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3970-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
    (pp. 1-22)

    When ilsa shakes snow from her ruff, the thing leaves her jaws to skitter across the linoleum. At the sink with her back to the dog, Meg scrapes egg from a pan and idly wonders if she’s being delivered another frozen bone. When it rolls to a stop near her slipper, she sees. There is no mistaking it, snow-crusted as it is.

    “Real?” Meg squeals, answering the question. She vaults back, her own hand meeting her mouth as if zip lined. Her next words gurgle into her palm, but when she swivels to where Ilsa sits, her voice is clear,...

    (pp. 23-40)

    Gina flattens the arts and entertainment section and pivots it so Ed can see, tapping her finger over a photograph of a woman standing next to a large painting. The painting is of water, as far as Ed can tell, or at least reflections over a wet surface. While he’s no connoisseur, he can see there’s merit in the composition. The colors are pleasant, but the painting is a little abstract for his tastes—he hopes Gina isn’t thinking of it for their own décor.

    They’ve recently moved into their new condominium after thirty years in a tall, cramped townhouse....

    (pp. 41-56)

    At miriam’s insistence, estelle has scheduled her flight so they can meet at the concourse and cab into the city together. Given the nature of their mission, there is the likelihood one of them might back out. More important, neither should be alone as they approach the business at hand, the crime.

    Estelle is the first passenger up the ramp, calf-sueded and cashmered as usual, with colorful dashes to complement the dyed-fur trim of her coat. Up close, Miriam sees the fur is real and sighs. It’s not as if they haven’t had this conversation. Estelle is practically a spectacle...

    (pp. 57-72)

    Veshko screws his ear closer to the television as the excited talk show guest erupts in phrases that are obviously offensive and perhaps obscene. Veshko looks from Tyrone to Jerry Springer, wondering when the host might take matters in hand, but Jerry only stands mute in the aisle with arms crossed, cradling his microphone the way some men cradle bottles. Jimmy, the brother of Tyrone, shrugs at the camera, basking in the attention as the crowd hisses and shouts. There is some trouble having to do with a fat woman seated between the brothers, but Veshko can find neitherbonin’...

    (pp. 73-90)

    Even half-paralyzed and dotty, granger’s father still hounds him for the gossip and goings-on at Birchwood, rehab hot spot to the stars where Granger is a counselor. It’s not just Oscar—everyone wants the scoop, the skinny, the dirt. Speculation flourishes, rumors swell and make print to blare from the racks at the checkout lines at Cub and Rainbow—Lindsay Vomits on Costar! Two and a Half Men Minus One! Was Amy’s O.D. Intentional?

    Granger knows that what happens at Birchwood every day is a far cry from what the tabloids report. Not that he could tell anyone what he...

    (pp. 91-109)

    Each word makes a huff in the cold air—words Cassi and her great-grandma Bana set down playing Scrabble the night before. Inhalingheft,exhalingcowl,she swings her arms to stay warm. In, out, in.Hasp, pucker, quiz—each word brings Cassi another step into the bog, from hump to hump of squelchy moss.

    Some words are less interesting in her mouth, likejerkorpant—the sounds they make only what they are, boring onomatopoeia. Of all three-letter words, she adoresfez.

    She hops the humps. Hopkeghopmumhopsot.

    Hokumwas laid down for a...

    (pp. 110-124)

    Katie gets what katie wants, and this was her idea. She circled the ad for caretaker couple, and now we’re living thirty hard miles from town, a long drive on a good day and winter’s coming like a fist. I applied by mail, sending a résumé and two references to the address in Chicago, not exactly trying, but got the job anyway because of my construction experience and the two years at Hickey’s Garage. Cars and engines are okay, but I’d rather stick to carpentry, even if it’s tricking out log McMansion kitchens with granite islands the size of islands....

    (pp. 125-147)

    Adodge van rolls to a stop at the corner of pike and Main, and the doors slide to expel a tumble of brides in full regalia. Once deposited, they wrestle their dresses and veils apart and line up single file to proceed to the stoplight. Holding hands they sway across the street making a string of bright bells. Each white gown is paint-spattered in Toucan Sam colors—orange, fuchsia, and acid green, some more splotched than others. After the last bride is safely across, they bump down the sidewalk to the entrance to the Duckblind Lounge. Horns toot, drivers call...

    (pp. 148-172)

    Apry bar clutched in one fist, the other planted on her brand-new hip, Ursa Olson steps back to assess her handiwork, pleased by what she’d been able to accomplish with only a few tools and indignation. Stripping her kitchen to the studs wasn’t something she’d thought through. Simply, she began doing it, and when it became difficult, or her limbs complained, she’d grab some lever or the sawsall or the tube of Bengay.

    It began early, when she was supposed to be in town for physical therapy. She wasn’t because Kip Karjala was supposed to drive her and called to...

    (pp. 173-193)

    In the thick of the train station crowd patrick braces, chin up, certain he’s caught her scent. Her idea of a greeting—one she never seems to tire of—is to sneak up from behind and cover his eyes. She’s done this since he was a toddler. Patrick has mentioned these early shocks to his therapist—the darkness, Cheerios flying, the fresh-grave smell of patchouli as his mother’s palms steal the light. Even now, thinking he’s prepared, he staggers when the sudden blackness clamps.

    “Guess who?”

    He laughs too loudly and pivots into an awkward hug. His mother’s cheek is...

    (pp. 194-204)

    Life does indeed flash before your eyes when you’ve only got minutes left, though not in any way you’d expect, not in any order that makes sense. It’s been all hop, skip, and jump from when the lightning strike cut short the question, “Peanuts, sir?” to now, as the seatbelt sign shakes itself loose to land near my shoe.

    It’s been no more than half a minute since the oxygen masks fell from above, and fifteen seconds since our stewardess, Mandy, has given in to hysterics and buckled herself into the fold-down seat where she now sits with her face...

    (pp. 205-250)

    At the sound of boots scuffing gravel polly McPhee peers over the sill and sighs. It’s him again, this time leaning on a spade with his stubbly chin propped on the handle. If it was only that, but he’s directly facing her window, not quite staring, just fixed.

    “Shoo!” she whispers, yanking the window shade hard enough to make another tear.

    Polly would already have a good start if not for his lurking. She has traveled a great distance and is finally settling in, recovered from her road-weariness. But now, how is she to concentrate, let alone write? When it...

    (pp. 251-262)

    Just northeast of town the road cuts through a deep ridge of Precambrian rock that once separated remote from isolated, until timber barons needed to get at the forests on the other side and blasted through it. The rock walls on either side of the road are embossed with bore marks, appearing as if large, stiff snakes had cleaved the greenstone to open the passage. Beyond the ridge, the road ribbons toward the border, hemmed by dusty spruce and jack pine poking from moss, with stone erupting from the crust in a dozen stone shades and orange patches of scabby...

    (pp. 263-279)

    Meg knows that no matter how sorely needed or hard earned, vacations seldom turn out as anticipated. The brochures with Photoshopped come-ons promise tranquility, but two weeks out of fifty-two are not enough to unknot eleven and a half months of stress or exhaustion. There are no blackout dates for unhappiness during high season.

    More marriages than her own have ended at Naledi. Inevitable, when you consider the lifespan of a resort—how many hundreds of couples have vacationed here. Of course, there’d been more happy and contented (or at least ambivalent) couples than miserable ones edging around each other...

    (pp. 280-303)

    Aspiring student reporter tiffany swifthawk is in the honors program at Hatchet Inlet High School. Her radio interview assignment is worth a third of her grade in Media Today. She hopes to plump up her digital audio résumé because she’s applying for the summer session at the School of Broadcast Journalism down in Minneapolis, which holds a three-week camp for juniors and seniors. Mr. Maki had instructed students to seek persons with interesting occupations, histories, or talents, interview them, edit the piece, and post it on the school’s podcast, the best of them to be aired on the local public...

  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 304-304)