Synopses & Reviews
"The Wasp Eater has an uncanny precision about love and forgiveness . . . It is one of the best narratives I have ever read about those who are unforgiven, and the effect of this refusal on a child." -- Charles Baxter
Deeply felt and wholly original, William Lychack's heart-rending debut charts a ten-year-old boy's quest to reunite his estranged parents. After learning of her husband's infidelity, Daniel's mother throws the man and his things out of the house. Stubborn and impulsive, Daniel's father is forbidden to visit, but he returns frequently to his son's window at night, furtively offering money, apologies, advice, and hope. Caught between his mother's pain and his father's guilt, Daniel attempts an extraordinary act in a desperate bid to repair his family.
Graceful and magnetic, this impressive first novel insightfully charts the raw emotional undercurrents of a broken family through characters whose human foibles are artfully drawn.
"This spare, meticulous novel opens out like a poem, its deceptively casual images bearing a universe of weight." -- New York Times Book Review
"Poignant . . . Lychack finds new ways to describe feelings too achingly familiar to anyone whose parents ever delivered similar news." -- San Diego Union-Tribune
"The simplicity and clarity of Lychack's writing are effective in their precise portrayal of a child's mind . . . vivid." -- People
William Lychack's stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, Ploughshares, Triquarterly, and on public radio's This American Life. The Wasp Eater is his first book.
The first novel by an author already featured in The Best American Short Stories and National Public Radio's This American Life, The Wasp Eater charts the raw emotional undercurrents of a family in crisis. Set in an old New England mill town in 1979, this magnetic novel is the story of a ten-year-old boy's dream of reuniting his estranged parents, a haunting tale of characters caught in the crossfire of their desires and fears.
After learning of her husband's infidelity, Daniel's mother throws the man and his things out of the house. But Robert Cussler is a stubborn and impulsive man, and he returns almost nightly to his son's window. Through the moonlit screen, father and son secretly plot ways to make the family whole again. Daniel's chosen plan goes horribly wrong, and he finds himself accompanying his father on one final betrayal of everything the boy knows and loves.
At once dreamlike and clear-eyed, The Wasp Eater poignantly uncovers the depths of emotion that echo through regular lives, and the surprising human capacity for resilience after heartbreak.
Set in an old New England mill town in 1979, "The Wasp Eater" is the story of a nine-year-old boy's dream of reuniting his estranged parents, and is a haunting tale of characters caught in the crossfire of their desires and fears.
The stories in William Lychacks dazzling new collection, The Architect of Flowers,
explore the dear and inevitable distance between people in loving relationships and find hope in dark situations. With tiny, precise details, Lychack observes the overlooked moments of everyday lifethe small failings between parents and children, the long-held secrets in married life.
A small-town policeman brings himself to shoot a familys injured dog; an old woman secretly trains a crow to steal for her; a hybridizers wife discovers the perfect lie to bring her family magically together again. Lychacks characters yearn to re-enchant the world, to turn the ordinary and profane into the sacred and beautiful again, to make beauty serve as an antidote to grief. From ghostwriter to ghost runners to ghosts in a chapel, these stories are extraordinary portraits of lifes tender humiliations as well as its sharp, rude jolts.
About the Author
William Lychack received his MFA from University of Michigan. Among other places, his stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, Ploughshares, and on PRI's This American Life. He has published children's books, corporate histories, and has worked as a teacher, editor, speechwriter, ghostwriter, journalist, lifeguard, carpenter, bartender, janitor, and currently works as a Judo instructor in New York City.