I just finished the first section of Guillermo Stitch’s new novel Lake of Urine (from indie Sagging Meniscus). The beginning of the novel has made me want to read the rest of the novel. It is weird, man, which I guess you’d expect from a novel titled Lake of Urine. So far, the book seems to run on its own comic-logic, a verbal slapstick routine that shifts in voice and tone from paragraph to paragraph. The sentences are fantastic; Stitch’s prose so far reminds me of Barry Hannah and Donald Barthelme, but also definitely its own thing. Here’s a blurb, via the author’s site:
Once upon a time that doesn’t make a blind bit of sense, in a place that seems awfully familiar but definitely doesn’t exist, Willem Seiler’s obsession with measuring his world—with wrapping it up in his beloved string to keep the madness out—wreaks havoc on the Wakeling family.
Noranbole Wakeling lives in the scrub and toil of the pantry, in the ashes of the cold hearth…which, come to think of it, also sounds pretty familiar…She lives, too, in the shadow of her much wooed and cosseted sister, worshipped by the madman Seiler but overlooked by everyone else.
And that, it turns out, is a good thing.
As lives are lost to Seiler’s vanity, the inattention spares her. She spots her chance to break free of the fetters that tie her to Tiny Village—and bolts.
But some cords are never really cut. In her absence, the unravelling of the world she has escaped is complete. Another madness—her mother’s—reaches out to entangle her newfound Big City freedom. The unpicked quilt-work of a life in ruins threatens to ruin her own. It will be up to Noranbole to stitch it all together, into something she can call true.
The blurb doesn’t really capture the energy and humor in Lake of Urine though (let alone its utter weirdness. Here’s an excerpt; the conversation is between Emma Wakeling (mother of Urine and Noranbole) and her tenant, William Seiler:
The melts are not long off.
. . .
The days grow lengthier and more detailed.
I’m not, eh . . .
You have been here for nine weeks.
You may recall the conversation we had in November, Mr Seiler, which resulted in your entering my employ.
A bit formal.
I do remember, yes.
Your brief which I outlined at the time was to be of assistance to me during the winter in the monitoring of my two girls, both of whom were of marriageable age and one of whom was attractive—a siren to the lads of the county.
I haven’t asked much else of you.
Apart from the sharpening of some tools. Indeed your . . . remunerations have exceeded what we originally agreed in both nature and degree. Despite your squirreling yourself away in that shed, increasingly. I am only trying to help, you know.
A man’s fluids require frequent liberation or they will stew.
Some of the tools are really very blunt.
I have asked for this little chat Mr Seiler because I wish to express my disappointment.
Oh? I surprise you? Really? You are surprised? For reals? You didn’t anticipate disappointment here, today?
Well . . .
You need reminding perhaps of yesterday’s unfortunate events? The toesnappingly cold trek through wolf-infested forest? The yelling and the wailing? The gnashing? The wet clouds of breath in the grief-stricken air, the frozen-teared faces of the bereaved? A quick recap?
No, I do remember.
Excellent. You would acknowledge then that as we approach the end of your tenure here one of my girls appears to be—and I recognize that there is some evidential uncertainty here—dead?
That would appear to be the case, yes, notwithstanding the as you say murky specifics.
I am to be grateful I suppose, to be appreciative of the fact that at least it isn’t my Urine who has been lost.
Eh . . .
You give no indication, Mr Seiler, that you recognize the seriousness of the . . . the precariousness of your . . . hm?
Oh, no . . . no, no I can . . . what?
Be under no illusions, Seiler. One more dead daughter and you’re fired.
That does seem fair.
Now lie still. Stop squirming!