Lake of Urine: A Love Story
Guillermo Stitch, 214 pgs, Sagging Meniscus Press, saggingmeniscus.com, $21
By the end of this book’s aimless, rambling introduction I had no idea what
the hell was going on. An unnamed narrator explains the writing best, I think: “The fact is that amid these countless aberrations, and without anyone really being able to articulate the experience, nobody quite knows what anyone else is up to.” This manifests with every paragraph, page, and description. Guillermo Stitch’s modern fairytale, Lake of Urine, keeps you confused and heavily entertained, chronicling the lives of two sisters, Noranbole and Urine, and their mother, Emma.
In the opening scene, a scientist measures a lake’s depth by dropping a string anchored with a box of jewellery, a puppy, and then Urine (the person). She drowns, which leaves the lake with an unnerving smell deserving of the deceased’s name. In the aftermath of her sister’s death, Noranbole escapes her home, becomes the CEO of a powerful company, and — oops — leaves her household chores unfinished. Emma isn’t having any of it. She chases her surviving daughter down, milking men for information (and semen) along the way.
Though she may have all the traits of an evil stepmother, Emma’s children clearly belong to her. Her past fills most of the book, revealing many husbands and a mother’s truly complex, some- times deranged love for Urine, whose pregnancy was the product of rape. Against the intensity of her mother’s plot, Noranbole’s adventure into the Big City distracts but at least defines her as a bit of a character.
She seems incapable of growth, and is portrayed as only a servant — to her partner, her mother, and her employer. Stitch’s writing leaves me confused as to why I need to know anything about Noranbole’s life when I wish Emma and her perspective filled the entire book — she certainly could. Lake of Urine is the rare kind of demented fairytale that leads you to hope it’s the villain who has a happy ending.