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Rules of the lake

by Aston, Irene Ziegler, 1955-

Format: Print Book 1999
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Third Floor - Fiction (Please Ask for Assistance) FICTION Ziegler,
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Third Floor - Fiction (Please Ask for Assistance)
Call Number  FICTION Ziegler,
Rules of the Lake is Ziegler's fiction debut, a collection of linked stories about growing up on a lake in "pre-Disney" central Florida in the 1960s, before orange groves were bulldozed to make way for shopping plazas and bushes were trimmed to look like Mouseketeers.

The stories trace the maturation of smart, funny Annie Bartlett, who recounts her adventurous childhood on Widow Lake. She's obsessed with the desire to learn to breathe underwater so she can become a mermaid. In her reckless pursuit of this fantasy, Annie grapples with the constraints imposed by her father's lake rules (No Swimming Alone, No Swimming After Dark, No Diving in Unknown Waters) and is forced to confront, among other things, her own mortality.

The title story introduces us to the Bartlett family: nine-year-old Annie; rebellious and sullen Leigh, her older sister; their philandering father, Ed; and their mother, Helen, whose drowning is the central mystery of the collection. In "The Treasure Hunter's Daughter" Annie accompanies her feckless father to an abandoned dump on one of his many get-rich-quick schemes. When she's badly cut on a potentially valuable bottle during the dig, she learns to her dismay that her father's first thought is to retrieve the bottle before taking care of his daughter's wound.

In "The Waiting List" Annie's intense desire to belong to something larger than herself--to Teresa Hatcher's Girl Scout troop--causes her to allow herself to be exploited and, in turn, callously to use an outsider for her own purposes.

In "Cliffs Notes" Annie accompanies Leigh to a gay bar where Leigh judges a drag queen contest and baits her English teacher who happens to be there. When events get out of hand, it is up to Annie to get herself and her sister out of harm's way. Rules of the Lake celebrates the power and endurance of myth and childhood imagination in the midst of loss, love, and change. What Annie learns in humid and tropical central Florida when she rolls her canoe--against her father's rules--is that life is both exhilarating and dangerous.

From these stories Ziegler fashioned a one-woman play of the same name that won the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award in Drama in 1997. It was first produced by Theatre IV in Richmond, Virginia.
Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Before Mickey Mouse took up permanent residence in central Florida, it was the kind of place where a young girl might aspire to be Esther Williams. Such is the scenic backdrop for Ziegler's debut collection of 14 interconnected stories, chronicling the childhood and adolescence of Annie Bartlett from 1965 to 1972. Living with her father and older sister, Leigh, Annie longs to be a mermaid, but she knows she must first learn how to breathe underwater. That entails obsessively practicing in Widow Lake, where her mother drowned. Annie becomes increasingly more bold about flouting her father's endless swimming safety rules, while the sisters push the boundaries of social rules as well, exploring boys, beach parties and drag bars. These charming, sometimes startling stories reveal more than carefree experimentations with independence. The lake functions as a prismatic metaphor: it is Annie's dangerous temptation and her safest refuge, the only private space for fanciful dreaming and a protected zone keeping adult complexities at bay. Ziegler captures the secret realm of childhood well, echoing it in the imaginary underwater world beneath the lake that in turn mirrors the unfathomable ugliness lurking beneath the surface of Annie's home life. Even when Annie is molested by a neighbor, her shame and confusion are shadowed and sidelined by the drama of a violent fight between Leigh and her father. Eventually Annie acquires a camera, adjusting her focus while developing a talent for bearing witness to the external world. Ziegler ably inscribes the natural beauty of Florida as backdrop to a tumultuous domestic narrative about upsetting the balance of things and facing the hope as well as the fear that comes with change. In the final story, an epilogue, Ziegler deftly shifts the first-person perspective from Annie to her father, giving the reader a glimpse of the author's versatility while revealing yet another aspect of Annie's absorbing reality. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Families -- Florida -- Fiction.
Girls -- Florida -- Fiction.
Lakes -- Florida -- Fiction.
Florida -- Social life and customs -- Fiction.
Publisher Dallas :Southern Methodist University Press,1999
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description 192 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN 087074447X (acid-free paper)
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