Place Published: Braddock PA
Publisher: Braddock Avenue Books
Date Published: May 2024
Praise for Sleep Lake
Luke Rolfes’ Sleep Lake is a kaleidoscopic, meticulously plotted novel that brings compassion, complexity, and nuance to its varied and captivating characters. At the center of this mosaic are Janie and Thomas, a young, married couple with a toddler, whose desires, frustrations, fears, and secrets are bringing them, closer and closer, to a high-stakes reckoning. Around them spins a cast of memorable characters – an incarcerated brother, an untethered sister, an accidental drug mule, pot-smoking retirees, and most-disturbingly, a sexual predator who haunts and lurks just outside the frame. Sleep Lakeillustrates, honestly and unflinchingly, the love and loyalty that binds family and friends, as well as the yearnings, complacency, and willful blindness that can put those bonds at risk. Rolfes’ novel is a wonder; at once a beautifully arranged, urgent, page-turner of a story, and, at the same time, an introspective, generous exploration of flawed, but always mesmerizing characters.
—Joanna Luloff, author of Remind Me Again What Happened
An exhilarating specimen of Midwestern noir that follows the increasingly dissonant lives of a family racked by the early marriage maladies of alcoholism, obligation, the looming promise of infidelity, and, as you’d hope and fear for a story set where the rivers run, an inevitable flood. Rolfes treats his characters with dignity and compassionate insight as they roam wild over the page. Don’t miss out on this one.
—Theodore Wheeler, author of The War Begins in Paris
In the early pages of this gripping and thrilling novel, we learn that before the story’s end, a dam will break: 'This is water that hasn’t seen the surface for a hundred years—water from the bottom of the river that sat and baked in its stagnancy, and now it is finally free from captivity, and it is taking your house with it.' But Luke Rolfes dives into the muck long before the dam breaks. He movingly captures the drama and comedy of everyday people navigating the turbulence and messiness of living. No easy answers are offered here; instead, Rolfes elegantly examines these characters’ lives with admirable insight and authenticity.
—Michelle Ross, author of Shapeshifting
Luke Rolfes' first book Flyover Country won the Georgetown Review Press Short Story Collection Contest, and his second book Impossible Naked Life won the Acacia Fiction Prize from Kallisto Gaia Press. His novel Sleep Lake is forthcoming from Braddock Avenue Books. He is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Northwest Missouri State University, co-edits Laurel Review, and served as a mentor in the AWP Writer to Writer Program.