Excerpt from Bay of Souls by Robert Stone, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Bay of Souls

by Robert Stone

Bay of Souls
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2003, 256 pages
    Jun 2004, 272 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Michael showed them the sack with the whiskey.

"I’ll just take this. I’m not hungry." When he tasted his untouched coffee, it was cold as well.

Beyond the Hunter’s Supper Club, the big swamp took shape and snow was falling before they reached the cabin. They followed the dirt road to it, facing icy, wind-driven volleys that rattled against the windshield and fouled the wipers. As they were getting their bags out of the trunk, the snow’s quality changed and softened, the flakes enlarged. A heavier silence settled on the woods.

As soon as it grew dark, Michael opened the Willoughby’s. It was wonderfully smooth. Its texture seemed, at first, to impose on the blessedly warm room a familiar quietude. People said things they had said before, on other nights sheltering from other storms in past seasons. Norman Cevic groused about Vietnam. Alvin Mahoney talked about the single time he had brought his wife to the cabin.

"My then wife," he said. "She didn’t much like it out here. Naw, not at all."

Michael turned to look at Alvin’s worn, flushed country face with its faint mottled web of boozy angiomas. Then wife? Alvin was a widower. Where had he picked up this phrase to signal the louche sophistication of la ronde? Late wife, Alvin. Dead wife. Because Alma or Mildred or whatever her obviated name was had simply died on him. In what Michael had conceived of as his own sweet silent thought, he was surprised by the bitterness, his sudden, pointless, contemptuous anger.

He finished his glass. At Alvin’s age, given their common vocabulary of features, their common weakness, he might come to look very much the same. But the anger kept swelling in his throat, beating time with his pulse, a vital sign.

"Well," Norman said, "all is forgiven now."

Michael, distracted by his own thoughts, had no idea what Cevic was talking about. What was forgiven? All? Forgiven whom?

In the morning they helped Alvin secure the cabin. His twelve-foot aluminum canoe was in a padlocked shed down the hill. Getting the canoe out, they found the padlock broken, but the burglars, in their laziness and inefficiency, had not managed to make off with the boat. One year they had found the bow full of hammered dents. Still working in darkness, they placed the canoe in its fittings atop the Jeep.

A blurred dawn was unveiling itself when they reached the stream that would take them into the islands of the swamp. There was still very little light. Black streaks crisscrossed the little patch of morning, the day’s inklings. They loaded the canoe by flashlight. Glassy ice crackled under their boots at the shore’s edge.

Michael took the aft paddle, steering, digging deep into the slow black stream. He kept the flashlight between the seat and his thigh so that its shaft beams would sweep the bank. Paddling up front, Norman also had a light.

"Nice easy stream," Alvin said. "I keep forgetting."

"It speeds up a lot toward the big river," Michael said. "There’s a gorge."

"A minor gorge," Norman said.

"Yes," said Michael, "definitely minor."

"But it gets ’em," said Cevic. "Every spring they go. Half a dozen some years." He meant drowned fishermen.

Yards short of the landing, Michael picked up the flashlight, lost his gloved grip and sent it tumbling over the side. He swore.

They circled back, and riding the slight current got a look at the flashlight resting on the bottom, lighting the weedy marbled rocks seven, maybe eight feet below.

They circled again.

"How deep is it?" Alvin asked, and answered his own question. "Too deep."

"Too deep," Michael said. "My fault. Sorry."

"No problem," Norman said. "I’ve got one. And it’s getting light."

Copyright © 2003 by Robert Stone. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.