Once upon a time that doesn’t make a blind bit of sense, in a place that seems awfully familiar but definitely doesn’t exist, Willem Seiler’s obsession with measuring his world—with wrapping it up in his beloved string to keep the madness out—wreaks havoc on the Wakeling family. Noranbole Wakeling, living in the scrub and toil of the pantry and in the shadow of her much wooed and cosseted sister, is worshipped by the madman Seiler but overlooked by everyone else. As lives are lost to Seiler’s vanity, she spots her chance to break free of the fetters that tie her to Tiny Village, and bolts. But some cords are never really cut. In her absence, the unravelling of the world she has escaped is complete, and another madness—her mother’s—reaches out to entangle her newfound Big City freedom. The unpicked quilt-work of a life in ruins threatens to ruin her own, and it will be up to Noranbole to stitch it all together.
Dark and funny in equal measure, Lake of Urine is a sui generis romp through every fairy-tale convention and literary trope you can think of, including the wicked stepmother, the fairy godmother, Pinocchio, an enchanted penis, the goose that laid the golden egg, binary code, marmalade art and alcoholic meat snacks you can drink. It is also a merciless takedown of self and self-importance, satirizing a society that exalts the inane, drowns out the sane and eschews the divine for the profane, and a lament for the dreadful weight of our own origins, for the heartbreaking impossibility of absolute reinvention, and the heartening tug of the ties that bind us.
“Absolutely savage… absurdly funny… truly original… In a story that takes us from a parochial redneck backwater to the sparkly lights of Big City and back again, we follow the fate of the Wakeling sisters. A supporting cast of batshit crazies dance onstage and off again as we reel from one delicious scene to another and the plotline shifts from now to then, from here to there and back to here. If that sounds a little chaotic, I can only assure you that the chaos is strictly in the comedy. The novel itself is as tight as a fist and punches twice as hard.”
—Anne Cunningham, Irish Independent