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When it comes to fiction, no one can deny the pull that a dashing jacket image has on potential readers, but the photo on The Lake might be an exception. Sometimes too much of a good thing can be very bad: long flowing hair, chiseled cheekbones, an outdoorsman tan, a come-hither look—and that’s just the author! Speaking of too much, in this, his first novel, Columbia, Md., native Daniel Villasenor exercises what his publisher’s press release deems “a voice and style that is distinctly his own.” As a copy editor, I have a hard time losing myself in a book with sentences like this: “Yes, the boy beckoned, moving his head up and about the way a horse does to warn a challenger, as if to the trees lining the west side of the slough which ran along that road which they had been on for the good part of the afternoon he was saying, Move off, which trees took his gesture into their afternoon light and held it, it seemed, absorbed momentarily in the brief windless repose of their lit barely burgeoning branches as if they would suddenly slam it back upon the two travelers in retribution, this boy’s gesture, which Zach loved beyond all reason and which he likened to wilderness, to wind at night or rain on the lake because the boy, like the forces of nature, was entirely speechless.” Whew. Check out Villasenor’s shiny mane—and bring your red pen—as he unfurls the tale of Zach, Anna, and “a swarthy man they called Canada” at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 27, at Chapters, 1512 K St. NW. Free. (202) 347-5495. (Tricia Olszewski)