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 always beautiful.”
—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 keep writing!”
—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