Lake of Urine
[Sagging Meniscus Press]
Guillermo Stitch’s Lake of Urine is a wild ride, which from the get-go sets out its terms and conditions: ‘If anybody tells you this story isn’t true they are lying. It is a true story; I am lying if it isn’t, and I don’t lie,’ reads its playful, meta-modernist opening gambit. Whatever our own normative intuitions as readers regarding what fiction should or shouldn’t be, it is hard, even after a few pages, not to surrender to Stitch’s unflinching audacity, which is everywhere on display.
By its very nature not easily summarized, Lake of Urine is described by Stitch as ‘a love story.’ This self-consciously misleading description evokes a conventionality that his book everywhere belies. Featuring a panoply of oddball characters, the narrative revolves around the Wakeling family, two sisters in particular, the eponymous Urine and Noranbole, daughters of lascivious matriarch, Emma. Noranbole, having fled Tiny Village, becomes CEO of the world’s most powerful company, Terra Forma.
The details of how such things come to be are labyrinthine and absurd, and yet carefully accounted for by a series of flashbacks. That said, simplicity of plot is not exactly Stitch’s forte, and Lake of Urine is all the better for it.
While in one sense deeply original, Stitch yet wears his influences on his sleeve. His ribaldry and penchant for the grotesque recall Rabelais; his recourse to polysemy and polyglotism is reminiscent of high modernism; his punctuation is evocative of Louis-Ferdinand Céline; and Lake of Urine’s garish palette reminds one, more broadly, of Boris Vian or the French Surrealists. This can give a whiff of anachronism to Lake of Urine, but the bizarrerie is strangely compelling.
Words: Luke Warde