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Sarah Stonich

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

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-22

When Ilsa shakes snow from her ruff, the thing l eaves 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. ...

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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. ...

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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. ...

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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, ...

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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— ...

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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. Inhaling heft, exhaling cowl, 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. ...

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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, ...

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pp. 125-147

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. Holding hands they sway across the street making a string of bright bells. ...

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pp. 148-172

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 accomplish with only a few tools and indignation. Stripping her kitchen to the studs wasn’t something she’d thought through. ...

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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— ...

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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. ...

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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. ...

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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, ...

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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. ...

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pp. 280-302

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, ...

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Acknowledgments, About the Author

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pp. 312-313

The writing of this book was supported in several ways, especially by the encouragement and space to work provided by many generous friends and relatives. Thanks to my editor, Todd Orjala, for taking this book on, and to the staff of the University of Minnesota Press ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781452939704
E-ISBN-10: 1452939705
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816687664

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013