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The Architect of Flowers Paperback – March 23, 2011
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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. -- Dave Cullen, Columbine
Skillfully written and absorbing, these stories frequently defy description and rarely proceed smoothly from point A to point B. --Library Journal
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, Resident Media Pundit
-Kirkus Reviews"In this dazzling collection William Lychak 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. I love being transported to so many different worlds."
- Margot Livesey, The House on Fortune Street "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, The River Queen"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, Sailed With Magellan"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, You Are Not The One
From the Inside Flap
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 young boy at his father's wake finds the man lying in flowers as if in a bath; a hybridizer's wife discovers the perfect lie to bring her family magically together again; all the characters in this collection yearn to somehow 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. Set in dying mill towns of New England, in timeless fishing villages by the sea, in great dreamlike cemeteries north of Greenpoint, each of these stories tries to necessitate the accidents that befall us, to build something durable from the worries and joys we carry, our lives so often prefigured by the losses and betrayals that we strive so hard to untangle, to make sense of and ultimately redeem. A middle-aged couple tries to salvage the deer they have accidentally killed; a pregnant woman brings home a box full of chicks to raise in the yard; from ghostwriter to ghost runners to ghosts in a chapel, these stories center on relationships--husbands and wives, fathers and sons--and bring to life the honest work and quiet grace involved in making-do, in holding onto all we care about as we say goodbye, the world always more strange and complex than we expect, love always more familiar and simple than we imagine.
Top customer reviews
To read the book is to go to Peoria: to take part in the characters' risks and visions; walk into their gardens and driveways and kitchens; speak, as they do, with the animals and invisible presences; and to lose, along with them, what they do and do not want to lose.
I found Lychack's work by accident: I was searching for something else and came upon "The Ghostwriter" online. I quickly got the book. My favorites, besides that first glorious find, are "Stolpestad," "The Architect of Flowers," "Love Is a Temper," "The Old Woman and Her Thief," and "To the Farm." I look forward to rereading the collection (many times) and seeing where the author goes from here.
The stories are written with great depth and are like portions of dream states. They are lovely and poetic, both down to earth and other-worldly. Lychack has a real talent. My only small criticism is that some of the depth of the stories are hard to access as the poetry and form sometimes take precedence over the meaning. He worked over twenty years on this collection and it shows. He is a true artist.
It's a well-balanced but far-too-small handful of short stories written in a style that adapts itself to quick yet thoughtful reading and each is unique. Themes of death, loneliness, divorce, childhood and old age are presented in a cinematic way that is pleasurable, especially for those who love prose and the short story. "The Old Woman's Thief" is one of the longest, and, while it tends to take a left turn before ending is the best example of a modern novella that I have read in recent years.
Broken homes are familiar territory for Lychack and his own experiences with this tragedy come through loud and clear, though through a warped glass and in various colors. Though it's something that I'm not personally familiar with, Lychack makes it seem personal and painful for the reader as well as the character. Not something easy to do in a short story.
I highly recommend this book of well-conceived short stories by William Lychack.
A few of the stories were not to my taste. And although I enjoyed the title story well enough - most especially getting to know the hybridizer of plants and his wife within their struggling, sort of creepy relationship of inventor and muse, husband and wife, the most unforgettable story that remains with me after the passing months of reading it is "Chickens."
I think I should call this "Chickens in the Time of Pregnancy" because it is about a newly pregnant woman, Anna the wife of Bob, and her passion for chickens which lasts throughout her pregnant life. William Lychack paints one of the most tellingly accurate pictures of contemporary marriage with all its ambiguities, struggles, and expectations that I have read.
Lychack's style reads in sharp and well-edited way that one finds in poetry more often than prose. His metaphors charm, "House so quiet you could hear the clock chewing the minutes..."; his contrasts of beauty and sorrow, longing ad lack within the lives of ordinary people create stories to be read again and again.