Lakes are mysteries, dark bodies of water that swallow secrets and hide those parts of ourselves better left submerged. Bodies are dumped in lakes, along with stolen cars and used weapons of violence. In "The Lake," Kawabata has used this metaphor for his protagonist, the unsettled and possibly psychotic Gimpei Momoi, who's mind swirls past and present and make-believe into one massive body of water, under which the corpse of his father lies sleeping.
It is hard to spend 160-odd pages in the mind of Gimpei, stalker and luster of young girls. His story fluxuates constantly, changing in an instant from his childhood desire for his cousin Yayoi, to his disastrous affair with his High School student Hisako, to his pursuit of the pure 15-year old Machie, or the bath house girl with the voice of an angel. Interspersed roughly with this mix is the tale of Miyako, a sad beauty who sold her youth to an old man for money. Gimpei's thoughts are those of his nature, a dark and lonely pursuer navigating the unlit corners and ditches of other's worlds, a dangerous and haggard animal prowling the fence.
Kawabata's technique used in "The Lake" is quite experimental, and different from his more-famous works. Aside from the dark story, elements of which can be found in most Kawabata, the shifting narrative and abrupt transitions and endings can be off-putting to those expecting a more naturally flowing story. Personally, I found the jump-cuts and unresolved nature of the writing to be complementary to the tale of Gimpei, with the overall effect leaving me uncomfortable and uneasy with the world, which is the stories goal.