Publication Year: 2013
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 of Vacationland cast shimmering spells across distance and time.
Those whose paths have crossed at Naledi inhabit Vacationland: 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 the Chicago Tribune and “a well-paced feast” by the Los Angeles Times, weaves these tales of love and loss, heartbreak and redemption into a rich novel of interconnected and disjointed lives. Vacationland is 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.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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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 the other side of the glass the first storm of the season has al-ready dropped eight inches, and it’s still coming down. Meg in-...
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G ina 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 paint-ing. 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 ...
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A t 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 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 next to Miriam in her woolen car coat, tan slacks, and tan cardigan—an ensemble that could be tossed ...
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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 take matters in hand, but Jerry only stands mute in the aisle with dle bottles. Jimmy, the brother of Tyrone, shrugs at the camera, basking in the attention as the crowd hisses and shouts. There is brothers, but Veshko can find neither bonin’ nor ho in the Web-...
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E ven half-paralyzed and dotty, granger’s father still hounds him for the gossip and goings-on at Birch- wood, rehab hot spot to the stars where Granger is a coun-selor. 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 ...
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E ach word makes a huff in the cold air—words Cassi and her great-grandma Bana set down playing Scrab- ble the night before. Inhaling heft, exhaling cowl, she swings her arms to stay warm. In, out, in. Hasp, pucker, quiz—each word Hokum was laid down for a triple, but Cassi’s not sure what it means, since Bana had only offered twaddle as a definition. She plans to consult the dictionary once she’s back at the cabin. For ...
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K atie 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, struction experience and the two years at Hickey’s Garage. Cars and engines are okay, but I’d rather stick to carpentry, even if ...
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A dodge 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. than others. After the last bride is safely across, they bump down toot, drivers call out from car windows. The brides wave gleefully bride-to-be, watching the procession from the bench outside the ...
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A pry 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 ac- 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 again. Ursa offered to limp the half-mile over to look under his ...
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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 pre-...
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L ife 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 fell from above, and fifteen seconds since our stewardess, Mandy, has given in to hysterics and buckled herself into the fold-down ...
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A t 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 She has traveled a great distance and is finally settling in, recov-trate, let alone write? When it isn’t Mr. Machutova, it’s the wind. Neither has desisted since her arrival—he shuffles and loiters all ...
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J ust 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 ange patches of scabby lichen providing an occasional thrill of color. In the few stands of old-growth pine that escaped logging, holy-postcard sunlight stabs through, blessing or warning those ...
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M eg knows that no matter how sorely needed or hard earned, vacations seldom turn out as antici-pated. 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 than miserable ones edging around each other in the small pine- paneled spaces or staring shoreward together through the bulged ...
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A spiring student reporter tiffany swifthawk is in the honors program at Hatchet Inlet High School. Her radio in- terview 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 for juniors and seniors. Mr. Maki had instructed students to seek persons with interesting occupations, histories, or talents, inter-...
Acknowledgments, About the Author
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Orjala, for taking this book on, and to the staff of the Univer-sity of Minnesota Press for their forward thinking in publishing ers, and for providing an opportunity for early readings of these stories. Thanks also to intern Elaine Kenny for all her hard work and sass. Bottomless gratitude to Jon—you had my back while I ...
Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013