Sunday, June 27, 2010
The Lake by William P. Crawford
(BookSurge / 1-439-23530-9 / 978-1-439-23530-0 / February 2010 / 308 pages / $18.99 / B&N $17.09 / Kindle $9.99)
Reviewed by Dr. Al Past for PODBRAM
What might happen if a lake, say, in California, contained water that for some reason not only kept people healthy but also caused them to speak the truth? It's not hard to imagine that there would be consequences. The Lake is basically a thought experiment which attempts to imagine just that situation, and, of course, many of those consequences.
The lake in question, located over an unstable geological area, is presumably contaminated, if that word may be understood in a good sense, by magma underneath. The exact mechanism of the beneficial effect is never identified. News of the health effects become public knowledge, with predictable results.
With no more information than given above, one can create a considerable list of possible effects: on the health care industry and doctors, for one. As for speaking the truth, Hollywood and politics might be expected to suffer severely from such an affliction. Both are dealt with in the story, as are a myriad of other notions, the whole being shot through with a wide variety of esoterica on geology, chemistry, biology, and even Ireland.
As interesting as this book might sound, there are problems: with the capitalization (as in Science, Tropics, Boomer Generation, and so on), with the narration (As he was idly reading…, As his eyes grew heavy…, and As he squirmed restlessly… occurring within four consecutive sentences), and with generally awkward style—too much telling and not enough showing. Characterization (there were many, many characters) was thin.
Independently published books need to be particularly sharp and appealing. The title of The Lake could use some punching up, as could the cover design, and the sans serif font is not especially friendly to the eye.
This is only one reader's opinion, of course. The other end of the spectrum may be found in the back cover blurb, which claims the prose is nothing short of pitch-perfect. Anyone who finds the premise of The Lake appealing might do well to use Amazon's "Look Inside" feature or try the free sample of the Kindle edition, to make an informed decision about his or her position along that scale.
See also: Another Review of The Lake