Lake Dreams

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Myth, emotion, vision, and dream tell the story of legendary lovers whose passions set the lake on fire.

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Overview

Myth, emotion, vision, and dream tell the story of legendary lovers whose passions set the lake on fire.

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What People Are Saying

Sandra Scofield
Swain Wolfe's irresistible novel entrances the reader with a silken ribbon of narrative and a warm, generous voice . . . about the wonderful setting, the pleasures of falling in love, and the tensile bond between women of kin. . . . The story pierces the reader with the pain of discovering just what it means to be an outlaw, just how dangerous it is to break the rules.
James Welch
In The Woman Who Lives in the Earth, Swain Wolfe introduced himself as a writer of great imagination and sensitivity. Now, in The Lake Dreams the Sky, he proves himself to be a storyteller of awesome proportions. This is truly one of those books you can't put down.
David James Duncan
The Lake Dreams the Sky is about the clash between a remnant tribal culture and the non-culture of the Western town. But greater than its clash is its sentence-by-sentence music. Swain Wolfe's voice -- with its quiet slippings into myth, eroticism, vision, dream -- bends the mind the way a prism bends light or a blues man his guitar strings. . . .
Celia McGee
A soaring departure from his earlier writing that nonetheless draws on all the strengths and specialness of that first work . . . The Lake Dreams the Sky is an astonishment of tragic Americana and sees with a singular vision the complications of love, nature, heroism, and art.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312317003
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/16/2004
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Swain Wolfe

A former documentary filmmaker, Swain Wolfe is the author of The Parrot Trainer and The Woman Who Lives in the Earth. He lives in Missoula, Montana.

Biography

Swain Wolfe is a writer and filmmaker who has lived in Montana most of his life. His early films were made in Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Montana. An interest in cultural anthropology resulted in the films Energy & Morality, about the effect of high energy use on social behavior, and Phantom Cowboy, about the ways groups and individuals heighten their sense of identity by using aggression to isolate themselves and their causes from the general public. His films have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and have twice represented the United States in the International Public Television Conference.

Recent projects have taken him to a Bedouin shantytown on the Gulf of Aqaba and to an island in Alaska to observe and film grizzly bears. The latter film, The Sacred Bear, will explore bear stories from early Eurasian and North American cultures, and compare our present views of nature with those of our early ancestors. One day in a meadow by the sea, he woke from a nap to find himself surrounded by five large grizzlies. He explained, "The bears were eating Chocolate Lilies. They ignored me. But sometimes, when I'm just waking up, I can still feel bears around me: large, serene, self-possessed bears."

For years, Wolfe lived and worked around natural storytellers. The first were the cowboys he lived with as a boy on ranches in Colorado and Montana. As a young man he worked in the underground copper mines of Butte and Walkerville, and later as a logger in the Bitterroot Mountains. In an interview for The Bloomsbury Review, he explained how these jobs affected the way he sees the world:

"When you're underground for a while, you begin to get the feel of where the ore flows, how hard the granite is one place from another, how hot the wall temperature is from level to level, where the earth slips and messes up the tracks, and things you knew but never had words for. Then one day after work you drive over to Anaconda to see your girl and you realize something is very different. Your world is never going to be the same because you cannot be on the surface without thinking about what's underneath. And like water seeping through sand, that sensation invades everything, all your thoughts, your dreams. You're never the same. The mines let you see in unconventional ways. At the same time, many of the miners knew how to tell stories better and with greater purpose than any I've read.

"After the mines, I worked in the woods. I became intensely aware of trees, which created another world for me and a very different way of seeing. Our early ancestors believed the world was alive and aware of us. I know how that feels and it affects how I write and how I tell stories." His novel The Woman Who Lives in the Earth, evolved over a period of years. "The end of the story came from a dream I had as a child. The personalities of the people, even various animals, and, of course, all those experiences that show up in small, unconscious ways -- all these things became a vague sensation that surrounded my dream. Then one day it was a story. It was like seeing a face for the first time in the ancient plaster of your kitchen wall. We can look at something for years, and suddenly see it."

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Adam Michalo (birth name)
    2. Hometown:
      Montana
    1. Date of Birth:
      1939
    2. Place of Birth:
      Denver, Colorado

Reading Group Guide


Question: Liz returns to the lake she grew up on twenty-three years later because she wants "some of the confidence and understanding she possessed as a child." (p.10) What does returning home mean to people? How does the experience of nature in childhood differ from what we experience as adults?


Question: Throughout the novel, the theme of the relationship between primitive man and nature emerges. Ana says, "Before horses or farming, we were totally dependent on wild animals... We were compelled to speak to nature and t negotiate for more control." (p.95) How has our lack of dependence on nature affected our lives and the way we view the world? Where does power lie now? With whom do we negotiate for control?


Question: When Rose tells Cody about being brought up by Indians, she describes a world that is aware: "the world was awake, everything could speak: trees and animals, grass and stones-they all spoke. Sometimes they would speak to me. And they could see me. They were thinking about me." (p. 42) How would the belief that the world is alive and aware change our sense of place in the world?


Question: When Liz asks Ana to define romance, the old woman responds "shared yearning." Do you agree? How would you describe romantic love?


Question: Ana claims that primitive man approached love with rapture and awe, and that "Perhaps rapture and awe become unnecessary in our negotiations with animals and found another expression. Maybe the vision of the animal spirit was transformed to a vision of the beloved." (p.96) Does love today have the power and mystery that our ancestors found in nature?


Question: In considering the difference between Indian and white culture, Liz says, "It's ironic that the Indians felt betrayed because their hearts weren't hardened, and we fell betrayed because ours are." (p.185) How does this statement reflect the relationship between Native Americans and the rest of our society?


Question: This novel interweaves a contemporary story with one that takes place in the 40's. The difference in life's pace is obvious. Ana comments in the contemporary story, "we have good reason to feel crazy. We have the nervous system of an animal that comes from a slow-moving world where all its energy came from the food it ate. Now look at us. Evolution never prepared you for this." (p.140) Is this a definition of stress as we know it? How has access to a surplus of energy changed our lives?


Question: Speaking in the late 40's, Tidyman comments, "There's only two things white people do here. They kill things and they make money.... Kill and sell. They pave it over, cut it down, dig it up, then they crap in it. If you care about anything, they'll drive you nuts." (p. 145) Is that an accurate assessment of man's relationship to nature in the last fifty years in this country?


Question: In the novel, Katherine, the old Indian woman who raised Rose embodies tradition and wisdom. Are we as aware of patterns and cycles? How does wisdom differ now?


Question: Cody and Rose were ostracized in the 40's because they defied society's sense of propriety. Society makes outlaws of people for many reasons but we often have a romantic view of outlaws. What qualities make people outlaws throughout history? Why are outlaws appealing?


Question: From talking crows to flying cars, waking dreams to the monster loneliness at the bottom of the lake, magic realism infuses the pages of this novel. How does magic realism reflect the themes of the novel?


Question: Bureaucrats and officials-those that run the town, the courts and the asylum where Cody is incarcerated-are a driving force in the novel. Rose says, "I think officials are evil-they make sales of everyone." How do powerful, controlling bureaucrats operate in the novel? Are bureaucrats being replaced in our world by computerized services?

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