In The Lake Of The Woods (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

In The Lake Of The Woods (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

by Tim O'Brien


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Pursued by rumors of the atrocities he committed in Vietnam, a politician and his wife seek refuge in a lakeside cabin in northern Minnesota, where a mystery unfolds when the wife mysterious vanishes into the nearby wilderness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780606362078
Publisher: Turtleback Books
Publication date: 09/01/2006
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 637,226
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile: HL730L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Date of Birth:

October 1, 1946

Place of Birth:

Austin, Minnesota


B.A., Macalester College, 1968; Graduate study at Harvard University

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In the Lake of the Woods 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An excellent book which contains many themes relevant to most everyone. It allows the reader the freedom to determine what happened so that there are endless possibilities. The haunting idea that single events follow us till the end is one that which sends chills up my spine. An incredible book which I will be reading again shortly.
RoboJonelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this novel, from the first page to the last. O'Brien's writing style is very powerful, amazing and sticks with you for a long time after you've finished. The way the book was set up also kept me very intrigued. How he ties in the past with present and what he thinks might has happened to the narrator's wife is done so beautifully and very haunting. The characters are well developed and I found myself getting more attached to them as the book went on. The story was also well developed, and even though you're left with making your own assumptions on what happened to Kathy Wade, it didn't bother me at all that this wonderful novel didn't have a traditional ending.
pluckybamboo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great mystery that offers a dozen different answers but ultimately ends ambiguously, but he open feel only adds to the scintillating mystery. O'Brien's characters are slowly revealed through the chapters as more complex with deeper, darker secrets than you could imagine. One of the best features of this novel is the fact that the landscape, nature, and setting in general all reflect the emotions of the characters and their actions; it even reflects the reader's own suspicions. The symbolism in the lake of the woods--and the woods themselves--is amazing. This novel also begs the question, is a happy ending so difficult to believe in? And why do we need an answer? Isn't the fun of mysteries the not knowing? Once we know the secret to the magic trick, it's not half as charming or clever as we thought...Overall, a great book, if a little chilling. It certainly makes you think (but not overthink).
Whisper1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a real page turner, creatively beautiful and exquisitely styled. It is an exceedingly unsettling and disturbing tale weaving history and mystery together.John Wade, is a 41 year old Viet Nam veteran whose recently failed Minnesota senatorial bid shatters his facade of success. As a child John was an illusionist and as an adult politician he honed these skills.Seeking solace from defeat, John and his wife Kathy vacation in the deep Minnesota woods where John's tether to reality snaps. A veteran of the My Lai massacre, John's flashbacks merge with the present day in a frightening nightmare quality.Late one night while boiling a kettle of water for tea, John decides to boil and kill the houseplants. Mentally disorganized and rapidly deteriorating, he vaguely remembers the possibility of walking down the hall to his wife's bedroom with another pot of boiling water...then awakens the next day to find her gone.O'Brien is masterful in his ability to use the dark woods as a metaphor regarding inner secrets and demons, blending illusion with reality as we walk the slippery path of insanity with John in his search for truth.
elsyd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is put together in way totally new to me. Some chapters are devoted to the story line. Others are Hypothesis, some are Evidence, and others are flash-backs. I ordinarily don't care for mysteries, but I couldn't put this down. Very well done,even though you know the outcome from the very beginning!
jesssh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. An often unsettling and uncertain story that O'Brien executes very well. Beginning with and exploring the issues related to the disappearance of the protagonist's wife in remote Minnesota, the book explores the character's childhood, experience in Vietnam, his marriage, and his political career. The book raises a number of interesting questions about the nature of many relationships, both intimate and otherwise, as well as the nature of memory, issues of loss, and magic, to name a few. A quick, gripping, and provocative read.
blakefraina on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't read novels about war. If I am attracted to a book by an interesting cover design and I see the words, "Vietnam War," anywhere on the back cover, I immediately put it down. I found this book at a Goodwill and, despite its subject matter, was intrigued by the plethora of glowing reviews. I am thrilled that I ignored my initial instincts and would gladly read any book written by Tim O'Brien, no matter the topic. From the opening lines, Mr. O'Brien creates an atmosphere of foreboding, of impending horror. His language is spare, yet remarkably poetic. The story of a popular politician who has lost a big election due to the revelation of his involvement in the My Lai massacre plays out slowly, like a mystery. His almost complete denial of his role in the horror illustrates the utter mutability of truth in memory. How we can choose to revise history - our own personal history or the history of a nation. Like the boyhood magician seeking his father's approval, he cultivates a talent for making things conveniently disappear. Even his disillusioned wife -who has either been murdered or, if one chooses to believe the alternative version of her final hours that is presented, has merely drifted away, despairing, into the ether. This book is, at once, disturbing, heartfelt, beautifully written and deeply moving. Truly rates a full five stars.
ericap32 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A gripping and suspenseful exploration of wildnerness, boundaries, and illusion -- literal and psychological. There are many questions raised in this book, and really no conclusive answers. If you like your novels straightforward and pat, give this one a wide berth.If you find yourself drawn to books that explore the motivations (sometimes murky) of characters, feature narrators that may or may not be reliable, and ask tough questions about the reality of our lives (to what extent does illusion actually shape reality? what happens to our illusions/reality when we enter into uncharted territory?), then you will really enjoy this novel.Highly recommended.
BenjaminHahn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first 40 pages of this book almost had me put the book down. I couldn't stand the "evidence" chapters. They seemed so gimmicky and lazy. I kept reading however and for the most part enjoyed the rest of the story. There are some truly well written passages, but I just couldn't get past the "footnotes as narrative" mechanism for telling this story. Perhaps it¿s the history buff in me. Perhaps it¿s my undergrad memorization of the Chicago Style Writing Manual. Whatever it is, using footnotes to indiscriminately describe fictional and nonfictional elements just irked me. From the get go, I knew that there was not going to be an official ending to this mystery. But by the time I got to the end, Tim O'Brien was inserting footnotes in the "evidence" chapters describing his personal feelings and takes on the characters as if they were real people. This really bothered me because these were fictional characters he created and he seemed to be trying to give us another point of view on them by implying that he really didn't know what they were up to. Post-modern some might say, but as far as story telling goes it was just confusing and it really didn't help me think about it in any new way. It just seemed like poor writing. I will give him this: the character of John Wade was a messed up dude, even before the war. A very convincing creeper. I really couldn't figure out why Kathy was in love with him. He didn't really exhibit any healthy qualities. Perhaps Kathy just found all the stalking and lack of communication romantic? Anyway, the chapters that dealt with the war were the most fascinating to me, and makes me want to read more something nonfiction by Tim O'Brien.Also, the setting of The Lake of the Woods was a good pick and he did a great job of making me feel the emptiness and monotony of the place, in spite of its apparent beauty. I ended up exploring the google earth Lake of the Woods for a good half hour, and indeed it is immense and foreboding. I could easily see someone getting lost in a boat out there. I also liked the cartographic anomaly of ¿The Angle¿ and how this could have been incorporated more into the book.So, what does Mr. O'Brien want us to get out of this story? Some things come to mind: the Vietnam War could make a kinda creepy guy into a really messed up creepy guy; or in the end it doesn't really matter if a guy gets away with murder, there is no point in having closure. Perhaps it is just that society can never be the judge of complex human lives. Was it ambiguity that O¿Brien was going for? Or maybe he just couldn¿t make up his mind.Overall, a pretty good story, scarred by creative yet confusing use of post-modern footnotes.
mikedraper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's not that long ago that the events surrounding the massacre of My Lai reverberated in the minds of Americans. The men of Charlie Company were sent on a search and destroy mission which got out of hand and resulted in the death of approximately 300 unarmed civilians."In the Lake of the Woods," tells of John and Kathy Wade, who are together at that lake. They are trying to figure out what John will do after a landslide loss in a political campaign. He had been a rising star, politically, being lieutenant governor at age thirty-seven. From this lofty success, he doesn't know how he'll deal with the end of his dreams.The author describes John and Kathy's early life at the U. Minnesota, the letters to Vietnam and his marriage after being discharged.They were offered the cabin after John's staggering political loss. At first things seemed normal. However, John awakens one morning and Kathy has disappeared. Perhaps there was a blackout but John cannot remember what might have caused this.What is interesting is that the author provides various scenarios. Did Kathy run off? Did John kill her and hide the body? Did she have an accident on the lake?With Tim O'Brien's journalistic manner of writing, he describes John's actions while stationed in Vietnam as a member of Charlie Company. The story is filled with quoted statements from other participants in the massacre. This adds realism and makes us wonder what the psychological effect of these actions were on John.John's character is well described as is the setting and historical happenings in Vietnam. Perhaps John is an extreme example of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome which not only caused the downfall of this politician on the rise but led to whatever happened between John and his wife.This dark novel is an imaginative and stimulating portrayal of the aftermath of war and the disolution of a man's spirit and possibly, his life.
elizabethn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
good, with a weirdness to it.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I hesitated about recommending this book, but it is so powerfully written, and some of the scenes ¿ particularly the more horrific ones ¿ are so vivid that I had to recommend it solely on that basis. (I won¿t reveal the particulars of one very powerful scene, but I am sure the grotesque events described in excruciating detail will stay with me for a very long time.)The main problem I had with this book is that it focuses almost completely on two incidents in the main character¿s life: his participation in the massacre at My Lai during the Vietnam War and an incident in an isolated cabin at a northern Minnesota lake many years ago. Granted, these are the pivotal events of John Wade¿s life (as is the suicide of his father, which is also constantly touched upon), but the narrative continually circles these two events, so that after several chapters it feels as if we are going over the same ground over and over again. We crave some new information, and the horror loses its power to horrify, particularly in the Vietnam scenes. The book spirals back out of this pattern at the end when it becomes very dark, very disturbing and very engrossing yet again.Another reason I liked the book was its narrative structure; it reads like the unfinished manuscript of a frustrated true-crime writer. This unnamed writer gradually becomes another character in the story, whose obsession with what happened at the Lake of the Woods and the mystery of Kathy Wade¿s disappearance drives the story forward. At the end, this mystery is never neatly solved, which may annoy some readers, but I enjoyed the ambiguity and the opportunity to make up my own mind about what happened between the husband and wife in the dark night.
CatieN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A dark and bleak story of one man's fight to stay sane, a man who was damaged by his father's alcoholism and suicide and then further by the Vietnam War, having been with the company that was at Thuan Yen with Lieutenant Calley. When John Wade's wife goes missing, questions and theories abound. This isn't a feel-good book, but it is a thought-provoking book showing the reader that there are many shades of black and white.
nickn54 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is remarkable for several resons: its postmodern narrative; its ability to blend mystery with political and social commentary; and, its presentation of life's complexities, randomness, and uncertainty.This is a great book.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that you need to read fairly quickly in order to get the full effect, but it is an easy read with an engaging (if nontraditional) format. O'Brien will draw you in and keep you engaged here, in what you could call nontraditional mystery or literary fiction. If you're looking for entertainment, it's worth a read.
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I LOVE literature and every aspect of it. I, at first thought this book was a weak fact VS. Fiction story, but boy i was wrong! This novel was forced upon me for Eng 102 and i disliked it uptil the middle section. Very detailed, and the ending left it right where it should be. Are you a cynical person who thinks the worst of man, or a humanist who believes there is good in everyone. I truly believe Kath and John made a heaven of a hell and started over in the most oddly profound way. Just my take on it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Your moms execution was poor, this book is amazing
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