This is not a review. Nathan Ballingrud’s NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS (Small Beer, 2013) is a significant collection—perhaps the most significant debut to arrive in the weird genre in some time. Nathan’s greatest strengths lie in his use of language, and the raw emotion this language conveys. His characters are broken, and their pain seeps from the page. It’s by use of this power that he takes us into tales that transform tropes just as much as they transform the characters within them. In this way, he’s similar to John Langan—recycling what at first might sound tired and breathing heart-breaking life into it. What Nathan does in these stories is masterful. My favourites include “The Way Station”, a story that is closest to the sort of surreal emotional landscapes I have tried to write in the past, and “The Good Husband”, a unique take (to my eyes, at least) on the living dead.
NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS is a strongly recommended buy.