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Vacationland by Sarah Stonich
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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Aside from the taxidermy, this is the best Sarah Stonich book I've had every night on the couch pleasure to read.

So many things - from one of the most memorable opening chapters ever to the lake and forest and sky descriptions
to the many distinct and well defined characters to the gently always moving along story to the oddly awkward ending -
make this book one to keep and read again, with the wish that it could go on forever...and that my daughter and I
could vacation in Nalidi!

What I wish was different is the house built so high > it will be impossibly dangerous in the winter and anytime for a dog and a painter as they age. ( )
  m.belljackson | Jun 22, 2019 |
Vacationland by Sarah Stonich published 2013 is a book set in northeastern Minnesota (my home area) and the book for my f2f bookclub in September. It is a series of linked short stories about "place" and the connections that place gives to the characters found in these stories. This was enjoyable read with a nice mixture of tension and humor with the flavor of style of Alice Munro, Tim O'Brien, Jennifer Egan, and Elizabeth Strout. Stories are set in the past and also in more recent times. A character found in the first chapter shows up in the last story. Though the story is set in a fictional resort called Naledi, this is somewhere near Ely and brings thoughts of the resort on Basswood that I could go to before the boundary waters were established. The town of Hachet Inlet which reminds me of Ely, a place I lived for 11 years and visited often before and after I lived there and where my family still lives. The author really expands on the characters that you would find in this area, making little changes but still captures the different ethnicity found in this area. The land of trees, Ely greenstone, insects, mines, casinos (actually in Tower, Lake Vermillion), the hospital and the auto accidents that were quite common on Hwy 169.

"there's a lot to be said for conserving words"
"then there's here, where time is cyclical, the seasons defining all, where nothing much besides the inevitable happens."
"If there is one constant threading through her life, its been water and she rarely strays very far from it."

Because I knew the area so well, sometimes I would react when it wasn't accurate but I was able to let that go but I also found some items where the research could have been better, especially with the chapter Approximation but it did bring to my memory the little place on 169 before you got to Ely where the owner would immaculately prune his pines into perfectly groomed shapes. ( )
  Kristelh | Sep 30, 2017 |
I loved Vacationland by Sarah Stonich. Vacationland is a collection of 15 interrelated stories that all share a connection to Naledi Lodge on Little Hatchet Lake on the laurentian divide in Minnesota. It was a summer resort, dubbed "vacationland" years ago, but cabins have disappeared and it is now a private home. Naledi Lodge was built and ran by Czech immigrant Vaclav Machutova for many years during its prosperity. Meg , his granddaughter, spent summers there and winters in Chicago boarding schools after her parents are killed in an airplane crash. Now Meg is an artist who makes Naledi her home.

Stonich's writing is impeccable. Each story could stand alone but together they made a beautiful descriptive symphony. It was a serenade of emotive descriptions. I love all of Stonich's descriptions of the settings in Vacationland. They are simultaneously seductive, but spiritual; atmospheric yet pungent. I could feel everything - the bitter cold, and then the scorching heat and biting black flies. I could smell the woods, feel the weather, experience and appreciate the environment and terrain like a local.

I appreciated the portrayal of her characters just as much. They were all handled with such empathy and humanity as their struggles were slowly revealed. Each of them has a unique, individual voice. They are complex, fully realized characters. As a summer resort worker many years ago, I knew many of these people - the dismissive summer people, the reticent terse locals, the old men drinking coffee. I understand the difference between the people who just visit briefly and those who stay.

Separation: A scene with Meg, as an adult and prominent artist, after her dog brings home an unpleasant surprise.
Reparation: An man recalls an affair he had at Naledi with another guest.
Destination: Adult sisters recall an euthanasia promise they made to each other when young.
Assimilation: A Balkan refugee struggles to assimilate into the community.
Moderation: A counselor at a rehab clinic deals with his angry, aging father
Navigation: A young girl gets lost when visiting her great grandmother's cabin.
Calculation: A young couple wants to start a family.
Echolocation: An American Indian man finds his way after a life changing event in a changing community.
Omission: Aging, long time resident of Little Hatchet Lake, Ursa Olson, struggles to remain self-reliant.
Orientation: Meg's aunt and cousin delivers her mother's ashes.
Disembarkation: Meg's parents die in a plane crash.
Hesitation: A science professor and soon-to-be writer, Polly, stays at Naledi when Vaclav nears the end of his life.
Approximation: Polly's childhood and life before Naledi.
Occlusion: Meg and her elderly surrogate grandmother, Polly, at Nadeli.
Tintinnabulation: Meg reflects on her life as an artist to a student reporter

I loved this collection.

Very Highly Recommended

Disclosure: My Kindle advanced reading edition was courtesy of the University of Minnesota Press via Netgalley for review purposes.
( )
1 vote SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
This book was a secondary pick for my book group (I picked two because the first was a YA quick read). I chose it from the MN Book Award nominations list - short stories and north shore MN... sounds good! I loved this book. Well developed characters with clear voices work well as members of the short stories and even better in the collection that creates the world of Vacationland. Every time I have recommended it since my read, it has been loved. Thoroughly satisfying. ( )
1 vote margothere.library | Aug 8, 2015 |
I liked everything about this book. Each chapter could stand alone as a short piece, but they are interwoven into a rich family history centered around a far northern Minnesota resort. ( )
1 vote St.CroixSue | Sep 26, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0816687668, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:43 -0400)

"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."--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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