THE ARCHITECT OF FLOWERS by William Lychack
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, March 23, 2011
The stories in
William Lychack’s 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 life—the small failings between parents
and children, the long-held secrets in married life.
A small-town policeman brings himself to shoot a family’s injured dog; an
old woman secretly trains a crow to steal for her; a hybridizer’s wife
discovers the perfect lie to bring her family magically together again.
Lychack’s 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 life’s tender humiliations as
well as its sharp, rude jolts.
"You keep reading these stories waiting for a stable place for these
human beings to inhabit. But they can’t be safely anywhere except in fables,
where their meaning has already been determined. I loved that effect, but
despite all the beauties of style, it’s not especially comforting and isn’t
meant to be. This book is an amazing accomplishment, very complex and
exceptionally beautiful, but also unnerving, like a beautiful painting by
Goya that can still give you the willies."
—Charles Baxter, author of Gryphon: New and Selected Stories
"The Architect of Flowers is a stunning collection. Each story is like a
brilliant dream, evanescent, yet managing to linger in all the senses long
after the last page has been turned. It is a poetry of narrative rarely ever
found in fiction."
—Mary McGarry Morris, author of The Last Secret
"William Lychack moves with equal ease between fabulism and realism as he
conjures up his alluring characters, their troubles and delights. The
resulting stories are precise, exhilarating, sometimes wonderfully funny and
—Margot Livesey, author of House on Fortune Street
"The stories in William Lychack’s startling collection, The Architect of
Flowers, are rife with quiet epiphanies and devastating betrayals. In
heart-rending, gorgeous prose, each mines the grace and brutality of
everyday life and leaves the reader slightly rearranged, and better for it.
Lychack is a truly original writer."
—Kate Walbert, author of A Short History of Women
"Deceptively simple stories about ‘ordinary’ working class characters. [Lychack]
brings them to life with tiny insights and dazzling images he seems to
exhale into every line. I was hooked by the title story…wishing it would
roll on and on."
—Dave Cullen, author of Columbine
"The small failings between parents and children, the long-held secrets in
married lives, the darkening of old age interrupted unexpected flashes of
hope: with the hand of a master, William Lychack searches out the ignored
moments of ordinary life and burnishes them into treasures. This collection
is a treasury. I loved it."
—Vestal McIntyre, author of Lake Overdrive
"Derek Walcott says he writes verse in the hope of writing poetry. Something
similar might be said about the fiction in William Lychack's, The Architect
of Flowers. The prose rises to a level of intense lyricism that
distinguishes this lovely, artful collection."
—Stuart Dybek, author of I Sailed with Magellan
"Oh, what beautiful stories. They take me back to my childhood… the warmth
and realistic children are wonderful. I well recall The Wasp Eater. Please
—Clive Cussler, author of Raise The Titanic!
"The Architect of Flowers by William Lychack is a collection of
stories that are stark, naked and downright chilling. The disc opens with a
yarn about a small town policeman who grapples with the decision to shoot a
family’s injure dog. Further along, there’s a geriatric woman who teaches a
crow to steal for her and in one of the book’s most poignant pieces, a
hybridizer’s wife, who discovers the perfect lie to bring her family back
together again. Ostensibly a collection of stories centered around grief and
the unending search for solace, it’s a rare and inimitable work and easily
Lychack’s best prose to date."
—Greg Robson, residentmediapundit.com