LAKE CITY by Thomas Kohnstamm


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Lane was sure he had escaped Lake City for good. But suddenly he's back slicing meat at a discount deli counter and grubbing his mom's boyfriend's beers. This calls for extreme measures.

Lake City is a neighborhood on the fringes of Seattle: "the mistress that grown-up Seattle kept around from its younger, untamed years. The one with electric blue eyeliner and a missing incisor," "the leaky, yellowed fridge in a remodeled kitchen of granite countertops and fresh stainless steel appliances." In other words, the part of town left behind by the Microsoft/Amazon/Starbucks explosion. After landing a wealthy girlfriend at the University of Washington, Lane was able to leave his trashy roots behind and reinvent himself as a married Columbia grad student in New York City. But shortly after 9/11, the dream is over—Lane’s wife, Mia, has been supporting the couple and paying Lane's tuition with her family’s money, but now her father is instructing her to dump Lane and cut off funds. Lane finds himself back home at Christmastime, sleeping in his mom's TV room, driving her car, working at the local Fred Meyer discount store, trying desperately to avoid being reabsorbed into the loser lifestyle of the drug- and booze-addled locals he grew up with. In a frantic bid to make enough cash to get back to New York and reclaim his beautiful life, he gets involved in a creepy scheme a wannabe adoptive couple has cooked up to sabotage their little boy's birth mother so they will be awarded permanent custody. Kohnstamm (Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?, 2008) stirred up a hullaballoo with his Hunter S. Thompson–style exposé/memoir of the travel-guide industry; a cynical worldview and gonzo aesthetic remain in play here. His delusional, narcissistic antihero and unsympathetic supporting characters—some dangerously close to offensive stereotypes—don't catch many breaks as they ricochet from one nasty situation to the next, with cheap beer, repellent food (beware a riff on the composition of deli turkey), illegal drugs, and other local specialties never far from hand.

Amusing as snarky social commentary on the world of Seattle have-nots.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64009-142-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Counterpoint
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2018


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