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The Burning Houseby Paul Lisicky
"Paul Lisicky, a New Jersey native who teaches at New York University, is the author of the novel Lawnboy and the memoir Famous Builder. His new novella, The Burning House, set unsurprisingly in New Jersey, is an extraordinary fiction in that it sustains a believable poetic voice throughout. That's no small feat, since Lisicky must convince the reader that narrator Isidore Mirsky, an artistic, college-educated, unemployed jack-of-all-trades, has not only the soul but the voice of a poet. We hear that voice right away, as this quiet book of desire and self-discovery opens with a paragraph originally published as a prose poem that begins: 'The rising seas, the sinking lawn: none of that bothered me tonight. Laura's health and mind shifting like water.'" Joseph Peschel, The Boston Globe (Read the entire Boston Globe review)
Synopses & Reviews
"The Burning House is an achingly lovely novel about the things that bind us together in this life and the things that pull us apart. Paul Lisicky has an extraordinary gift for exploring emotional nuance and the rhythms of desire. With this book he yet again asserts himself as one of the select writers who continues to teach me about the complexities of the human heart."—Robert Olen Butler
"…a beautiful and powerful writer…"—Publishers Weekly
"…an extraordinary fiction in that it sustains a believable poetic voice throughout…"—Boston Globe
In this captivating family saga, narrator Isidore Mirsky finds his close-knit family and community suddenly coming apart. Facing the illness of family members and the loss of homes in a recession-plagued urban town, he also contends with an overwhelming new desire—his feelings for his wife's sister. The Burning House finds its narrator at his most vulnerable, and explores what it means to be a good man amidst chaos.
Paul Lisicky is the author of Lawnboy and Famous Builder. Lisicky maintains a highly active schedule with readings and book signings, and connects with his readership through Facebook and his blog. He lives in New York City and on the east end of Long Island, and teaches at New York University. A collection of short prose pieces, Unbuilt Projects, is forthcoming in 2012.
"In Lisicky's third outing, a vigorous, interior-driven narrative plays out within the tense, anticlimactic relationship among three people sharing an inherited house set on an exotic coastal lagoon. Isidore Mirsky, unemployed at 32 after an accident involving his truck, is a well-meaning jack-of-all-trades. He pumps up with weights, and he cleans the beautiful house that his very competent, lovely wife, Laura, has inherited from her recently deceased mother while Laura's younger sister, Joan, who lives with them, inhabits the laundry room and volunteers with a community group actively trying to bar the building of townhouses nearby. Simmering under Isidore's pungent impressions of himself — his self-importance and aimlessness — is his attraction to Joan, and his hot afternoon sex with a woman he meets in the supermarket parking lot, even though he declares his love for Laura (who exhibits strangely hysterical symptoms, perhaps having had a miscarriage). Isidore's looming sense of being a failure and his wife's being on to him ('I know your type,' she assures him), fuel his yearning for the more fragile, flawed, unsure sister, yet the only thing these three unmoored characters share in the end is the flu. Lisicky (Famous Builder) is a beautiful and powerful writer; his prose has a palpable energy that demands close attention, but the subtle narrative is smothered by the story's constrained resolution. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
This witty and astute novel explores loss, desire, and moral choice, as a recession-era family and community disintegrate into chaos.
About the Author
Paul Lisicky, the author of Etruscans The Burning House (2011), is also the author of the novel Lawnboy (Turtle Point Press, 1999; reprinted by Graywolf Press) and the memoir Famous Builder (Graywolf Press, 2002). His work has appeared in The Iowa Review, StoryQuarterly, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, Prairie Schooner, and has been widely anthologized. His awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the James Michener/Copernicus Society, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He has taught in the graduate writing programs at Cornell University, Rutgers-Newark, Sarah Lawrence College, and Antioch University Los Angeles. He currently teaches at NYU.
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