“The Lake” is an interesting little story. It starts out as an idyllic childhood tale, but quickly takes a darker turn. It’s not particularly scary, however. It has much in it that feels common to many coming-of-age stories. Discovery of the self and the world around, first encounters with love and mortality, etc. All very familiar themes, though the ending, of course, has what I’m coming to see as a sort of Bradbury signature twist. Not that it was unexpected; it was actually quite predictable indeed.
Something that struck me about this story was that the narration, in first person, feels very Lovecraftian. That’s not to say it’s full of Eldritch horrors. But it feels very similar to the style Lovecraft’s narrators are written in. There’s a sophistication underlying the simplicity of the story that lends a certain gravitas to the content.
That’s about all there is to say, honestly. It’s quite short, packing a fair bit of story into only about four and a half pages. In his introduction to the collection I have, Bradbury says that when he wrote “The Lake,” “I knew I had written the first really good story of my life,” (The Stories of Ray Bradbury, Alfred A. Knopf, 1980, xviii).
I suppose that should tell you something, since in the grand scheme of things, artists of all kinds generally are displeased, to some extent, with their own work. Remember, Stephen King threw away the manuscript for Carrie. He owes his career to his wife saving it from the trash. So always trust an author if they say their work is good; it’s a rare statement, and it’s usually accurate.