• North American Lake Monsters

  • Stories
  • By: Nathan Ballingrud
  • Narrated by: Travis Young
  • Length: 6 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (264 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this striking and bleak, yet luminous debut collection, Nathan Ballingrud, winner of the inaugural Shirley Jackson Award, uses the trappings of the Gothic and the uncanny to investigate a distinctly American landscape: The loneliest and darkest corners of contemporary life.

Ballingrud’s stories are love stories. They’re also monster stories. Sometimes the monsters collected here are vampires or werewolves. Sometimes they wear the faces of parents, lovers, brothers, or ex-wives, and sometimes they wear the faces we see in our mirrors. The people in these stories - ex-cons, single parents, unemployed laborers, kids seduced by extremism - are stranded by life, driven to desperate acts by love and a longing for connection. Sometimes they’re ruined; sometimes redeemed. They are always recognizably, wonderfully, and terrifyingly human. Even at their most monstrous.

©2013 Nathan Ballingrud (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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What listeners say about North American Lake Monsters

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Superb collection of truly original stories

These are some of the freshest and most astonishing short stories I have read in my 40+ years. They defy categorization, as most contain elements of fantasy, horror, surrealism, and mystery; but all are rooted in a tradition of emotional realism. Many critics have pointed out that these stories would be just as effective with the fantastical elements removed, which is totally true and totally misses the point; because it is the very element of the fantastical and uncanny that sets these stories in a category of their own and makes reading then such a joy. These are amazing tales that will live in your mind long after you have finished them. I strongly encourage everyone to give this collection (as well as Ballingrud's excellent new collection "Wounds") a try. You will not be disappointed.

6 people found this helpful

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Great writing - lots of pain

I begin listen around 11:30 and finished the third story by about 2:00 a.m. The writing is great; the narration is great. (Nathan has a thing for all kinds of light, stars, luminosity, as you will see). But, man, these are characters in pain. I love the stories, but they're painful, and I don't expect to listen to three in a row again.

4 people found this helpful

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Interesting

Some of the stories were hard to follow and I was a bit lost if they were psychological or physically happening. Sometimes I fell a little out of interest. It was pretty eerie though. With that being said, the narrator practically brings every character to life with his acting, barely a dull moment while he reads, his accent is really good too!

3 people found this helpful

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Simply Brilliant

I had the opportunity to meet Nathan in November of 2019 and have him as a guest on my podcast in April of 2020. In between those times, I read his newest collection, Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell, and fell in love with not only the terror that oozed from the pages but the way the stories themselves take hold of your psyche and settle in the back of your mind for the days and weeks to come.

North American Lake Monsters was an obvious choice to pick up and let me tell you, it not only builds on the deep, unsettling darkness I experienced in Wounds, but heaps on layers of sadness and lost hope mixed with supernatural creatures that are just beyond the periphery. If this doesn't seal him as one of the finest short story writers ever, what more could you ask for?

This collection is simply brilliant and not for the faint of heart. These stories carry a weight that will crush you if you aren't careful.

2 people found this helpful

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These are not good stories. The reader is okay.

I wouldn't purchase this, the stories are almost unfinished and have horrible endings, the stories are not scary, not impressed.

1 person found this helpful

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Worst book by far I have listened to.

I heard about this book from Pinterest and the arrival said the stories have her nightmares for days. I was excited as I am a huge horror fan! I was severely disappointed in the stories not being scary at all. I can't even finish the book. To bad no refund. If you are looking for scary, keep looking.

1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic

great writing and tone. these stories stick with you. not so much gore but something deeper. solid

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Penny Dreadful

Would you try another book from Nathan Ballingrud and/or Travis Young?

Yes for the narrator; No for the author.

Would you ever listen to anything by Nathan Ballingrud again?

No.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed the second story. However, the rest were just dreadful.

1 person found this helpful

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it just feels unfinished

many of the stories stop at points that I suppose are meant to feel mysterious, but they just feel lazy and unresolved. Also some of the dialogue is hard to follow the way its written when read aloud. The narrator did the best he could.

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Dark and Potent

Pretty fantastic throughout, with ambiguously dark tales that leave you pondering for hours afterwards.

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  • David Slater
  • 07-30-20

Fantastic!

This is exactly what I've been looking for all my life. A book which is scary and unsettling but completely real. The depth of character and trueness of their stories is almost unbearable at times.

This isn't throwaway scares. You are in the hands of a great writer with this collection.

There are a few odd level issues with the recording where one or two lines will suddenly be louder. It bothered me when it first happened but its so infrequent and the narration is so good that I forgot it happened after a while.

Can't recommend this enough!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Oliver
  • 10-18-19

Realism and horror

This was an excellent, ground-breaking collection. Ballingrud has a distinct authorial voice I immediately warmed to: earthy and naturalistic, he portrays perfectly, and with great compassion, characters dealing with poverty, grief, homelessness, loss, anger etc.: it is realism of the highest quality. Into this he then adds elements of horror/supernaturalism, to greater and lesser degrees depending on the story. This mix is never jarring; the weird elements work to magnify and embellish the psyches of the characters, whilst also suggesting things monstrous and bizarre just out of reach of our senses. I can't say that I have read any weird fiction quite like it before.

Special mention must go to Travis Young's narration; his tone suited these stories perfectly, and his reading was exemplary.

Do not hesitate to listen to this if you enjoy horror/weird fiction, but I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates good literature. This writer really deserves greater exposure.

1 person found this helpful

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  • djdrunkenjedi
  • 04-19-22

The real face of horror?

I haven’t given this full marks due to me preferring Wounds his other book of stories. But this is a work of a master all the same.