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New Release: Lake Drive – Joe Baumann

Lake Drive - Joe Baumann

Joe Baumann has a new queer weird sci-fi book out (bi, gay, lesbian): Lake Drive.

One day at the height of summer, a group of restaurant employees in a small college town in northern Missouri wake up to a world that has changed: random people have vanished and been replaced by strangers.

But these replacements are strangers only to them; the rest of the world sees nothing amiss, the replaced American president, professional athletes, and actors and entertainers wiped from their memories.

As the summer progresses, the staff discover that they can each return one person’s memory. But who will each of them choose, and why?

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The summer evening is a blaze of reddish pink when Andrew clocks out, leaving Timothie and Angela behind as the only two serv- ers still on the clock. The others are huddled at the bar, drinking away their tip money. They’re all bleary and slouched, tired despite the fact that their bodies are used to pounding through the kitchen and dining room.

“It’s all fucked up,” Donny is saying, voice already slurred. He’s drinking long island iced teas with shitty well alcohol and is on his third. “Maybe we’re all just dreaming,” Carter says. “Maybe I’m dreaming and none of you are real.”

“Who’s the philosopher now?” Andre says.

“Which one was it that said the whole brains in a vat thing?” Donny says.

“Descartes,” Andre says, shaking his head. “But it’s a modern bastardization. Really, Descartes’ whole thing was about a demon or some- thing.”

“Or something? Aren’t you taking a class?” “Yeah, it’s intro-level. We haven’t gone that deep.”
Evan sets down a round of shots, something that reeks of tequila and tastes like warmed puke. Andrew coughs and tries not to regurgitate it. His hands feel slimy.

“Has anyone checked the news?” he says.

Eyes swivel toward him. “The news?” Andre says.

Donny pulls out his phone and starts typing. Everyone stares at him. Evan pours a Bells from the tap, setting it down on the serving mat just before Angela whisks it away to her six-top at the back of the dining room. They split an expensive bottle of Beaujolais as an appetizer and two of them have been one-upping each other buying drinks; they’ve reached top-shelf margaritas, which cost fourteen dollars each. Perry, the host, finishes wiping down his floor chart and calls out a goodbye as he leaves through the front. One of the busboys comes around behind the bar and takes the bus tub that Evan has filled with plates and pint glasses.

“Nothing,” Donny says. The blue glow of the screen lights up his chin, which is covered in day-old stubble despite the Lake | Drive policy against facial hair. No one has been paying attention, what with Rhoda gone. “I’m not finding anything.”

Author Bio

Joe Baumann’s is the author of three collections of short fiction, Sing With Me at the Edge of Paradise, The Plagues, and Hot Lips. His fiction and essays have appeared in Third Coast, Passages North, Phantom Drift, and many others. He possesses a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He was a 2019 Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction. His debut novel, I Know You’re Out There Somewhere, is forthcoming from Deep Hearts YA. He can be reached at

Author Website

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