In this epic, mythical debut novel, a newly-wed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore. They plan to live there simply, to fish the lake, to trap the nearby woods, and build a house upon the dirt between where they can raise a family. But as their every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife’s beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house.
©2013 Matt Bell (P)2013 AudioGO
"A tragedy of fantastic proportions, the book’s musical, often idiosyncratic prose will carry its readers into an unfamiliar but unforgettable world." (Library Journal)
"In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods is a big, slinking, dangerous fairy tale, the kind with gleaming fangs and blood around the muzzle and a powerful heart you can hear thumping from miles away. The story’s ferocity is matched by Matt Bell’s glorious sentences: sinuous and darkly magical, they are taproots of the strange." (Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia)
"This debut novel from up-and-coming Bell is a dark, intriguingly odd fable about what it means to be a father…this challenging, boldly experimental attempt at myth-building may resonate with equally ambitious readers." (Publishers Weekly)
The beautiful prose could not for the life of it overcome its brutal repetitiveness and nonstop exposition. After a while, I just wanted to say "No AND THEN!!!" As much as the imagery and descriptions were vivid and well thought out, this story could have borrowed a page from the South Park school of storytelling (not at all that those clowns should be a touchstone for good writing, but...): every scene should have a "therefore" or a "but" to move the story along.
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