A review of Lake Effect and other stories by Dayle Furlong.

Join us for a reading and conversation, Sunday March 26 at 5:00pm ET. Register through EventBrite and you might win a copy of the collection from Cormorant Books.

The very first story in LAKE EFFECT from Dayle Furlong opens with a blockage that “had been disregarded as trash: a cluster of plastic bags, a few water bottles, and what looked like a discarded red jacket, swollen with water, caught in a bushel of cattails.” It is a bloated body, perhaps the missing stepson of the narrator in Tributaries, or another of the boys that keep disappearing in Thunder Bay.

Opening with this story, a reader gets the sense this collection isn’t going to be a light-hearted romp through the small towns surrounding the great lakes, but the opening story isn’t about murder, nor is it about the suspected swim coach. Tributaries is about love and its heartbreaking loss, and perhaps, more importantly, it is about being loved.  

The twelve stories in LAKE EFFECT are about people in places and situations that demand our attention. A chubby woman in a boring marriage obsesses over her younger, hotter next door neighbour while his wife has an affair; a man falls in love with an Iranian woman despite the anti-Muslim hate filling his small town; a woman steals a diamond ring when she discovers her gambling addicted husband has once again threatened their livelihood; a young woman finds the father she thinks abandoned her only to learn the truth her mother tried to hide, and a young ex-heroin-addict sits in jail awaiting news on the fate of a moms and babies program whose end would mean the removal of her son from her care.

These stories ask us to imagine what we might do, who we might be in similar situations. After spending a bit of time with all of Furlong’s characters, I am still wondering about the woman who married a man and moved to Paris at the drop of a hat. I’m still thinking about the ex-wife of the hot next-door neighbour and wondering if she thinks she’s the good guy in her story. And to be honest, I’m now thinking about opening a hot dog stand when I retire.

LAKE EFFECT is a collection filled with maudlin characters you can’t feel sorry for, because they don’t feel sorry for themselves. They get on with it. With precision and an incredible grasp of lyrical and metaphorical language, Dayle Furlong offers up the most glorious people, places and situations. When I read, that he’d curled up like a salted leech, I threw my head back in awe. When I followed Aurora, in Ebb, on her obsessively detailed walk home, I counted the steps with her, I also wanted to know the total number of spilled sugar granules that caught her attention. And when Candace, in What Follows the Falls, finds her new best friend Amy curled up on her daughter’s bed with one of her baby onesies stuffed down her shirt, I cringed. Furlong’s attention to the physical and emotional details is impressive and her accurate portrayals of family, friendships, loneliness, and loss is what will bring me back to her prose again and again.

In LAKE EFFECT, love feels a lot like drowning. If the water doesn’t kill you, you have three choices: dive back in, only go in up to your knees or avoid it altogether.

“Dayle Furlong is the author of the novel Saltwater Cowboys, a 2015 Toronto Public Library Dewey Diva Pick, and a collection of poetry entitled Open Slowly. Her short fiction has appeared in The Great Lakes ReviewThe Puritan, and The Saturday Evening Post. Her fiction has been awarded an Award of Merit from the Summer Literary Seminars international literary competition and was a finalist for the 2018 Curt Johnson Prose Awards in the USA. She is a graduate of the Humber College School for Writers and has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.”

You can purchase a copy of LAKE EFFECT from your local bookstore. Find your closest location through the publisher, Cormorant Books.