The Architect of Flowers PDF Ø The Architect Kindle


The Architect of Flowers Acclaimed for The Wasp Eater his first collection of stories Lychack focuses now on a fascinating range of human behavior With a fluency of tone and a gifted eye he examines the dark and unfathomable moments in the most committed relationships; the small distances that stretch into miles between generations and couples when long buried secrets tumble out into the light; or the eccentricities that may label us as odd yet mark us as uniue Capturing the bewilderment and tenderness in failed connections or missed moments his characters stand vivid in their human frailty and we warm to them almost despite ourselves A lonely wife determined to gather her far flung family for a reunion invents the perfect lie to persuade them; an old woman recalls how she once trained a black crow the art of thieving; and the off duty small town cop on his last round of the evening who does a distressed family a great service when he summons the courage to shoot their gravely injured dogThese poignant tales reveal the subtleties in love and indifference or the strange sad breathtaking tricks of chance that can change a life in a second As Lychack moves among these characters with all their virtues and failings he observes the inevitable disparity between their realities and their dreams even while investing their stories with wit humility and a large measure of grace That he succeeds so remarkably in transferring it all to the page is evidence of his prodigious talent

  • Paperback
  • 161 pages
  • The Architect of Flowers
  • William Lychack
  • English
  • 02 April 2016
  • 9780618302437

About the Author: William Lychack

William Lychack is the author of two novels The Wasp Eater and the forthcoming Cargill Falls along with a collection of stories The Architect of FlowersHis work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories The Pushcart Prize and on National Public Radio's This American LifeHe currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh



10 thoughts on “The Architect of Flowers

  1. David Abrams David Abrams says:

    Long after you have finished reading The Architect of Flowers and set it aside to move on to other books the cadence of William Lychack’s prose will continue to click like a metronome in your head You may forget the plots of these stories an old woman trains a crow to steal for her a boy confronts memories of his father at his funeral you may forget some of the characters a ghost writer a pregnant woman raising chickens a mother and her gun toting son but I’m willing to bet you’ll have a hard time shaking loose Lychack’s distinct voiceIt’s a style that boldly announces itself on the first page of the first story “Stolpestad” which is told from the second person point of view putting us in the shoes of a small town cop as he patrols the streets Was toward the end of your shift a Saturday another one of those long slow lazy afternoons of summer—sun never burning through the clouds clouds never breaking into rain—odometer like a clock ticking all those bored little pent up streets and mills and tenements away The coffee shops the liuor stores laundromats police fire gas stations to pass—this is your life Stolpestad—all the turns you could make in your sleep the brickwork and shop fronts and river with its stink of carp and chokeweed the hills swinging up free from town all momentum and mood roads smooth and empty this big blue hum of cruiser past houses and lawns and long screens of trees trees cutting open to farms and fields all contoured and high with corn air thick and silvery as if something was on fire somewhere—still with us? That sandy turnaround—always a uestion isn’t it? Gonna pull over and ride back down or not? End of your shift—or nearly so—and in comes the call It’s Phyllis dispatcher for the weekend that radio crackle of her voice and she’s sorry for doing this to you but a boy’s just phoned for help with a dog And what’s she think you look like now you ask town dogcatcher? Oh you should be so lucky she says and gives the address and away we goAway we go indeed We drive over to the house with the cop past “the apartments stacked with porches the phone poles and wires and sidewalks all close and cluttered” and answer the call which turns into an emotional wrenching event—both for Stolpestad the cop and for us the readerEach of Lychack’s thirteen stories is a miniature emotional event We read a story and then overwhelmed we put the book aside to go walk the dog cook the dinner or just stare blankly into space giving ourselves time to process what we just went throughThe action in these stories is relatively small contained in moments of compressed drama Witness for instance the way “Hawkins” opens Killed a deer last night Kate and me and this creature almost completely over us Flash of animal tug of wheel sound we felt than heard poor thing lying on the side of the road as we pulled around Should have just kept driving gone home felt bad Don’t know what possessed us to get out of the car November and nothing but trees around No cars no houses deer small and slender tongue powdered with sandLychack’s strength lies in his ability to render details in language so precise—at once familiar and fresh—that the stories demand multiple re reads just to savor the gorgeous flavor of the words In “Chickens” we sit in a “house so uiet you could hear the clock chewing minutes the way an insect chews a leaf” In “Thin Edge of the Wedge” a lawn is “the green of frozen peas” In “Like a Demon” a roadside diner has the “slushy sound of cutlery and voices walls of uilted aluminum” And in the title story which centers around a plant hybridizer and his wife trying to hold the family together Lychack turns a mere buttonhole into poetryBack in the city he worked in buttons Glass buttons plastic buttons buttons of silver copper brass coral leather lacuer amber pewter gold Buttons of broken china Buttons of shipwrecked coins Five seven eleven years in buttons and beads and able to recite the breathless rise of the lowly button in his sleep its underdog days as hopeless decoration early alliance with suspender and belt marriage to buttonhole love affairs with safety pin and clasp hook mentor to the metal snap arch nemesis of the zipperIn some stories like “Griswald” in which an elderly neighbor takes a too keen interest in a nine year old boy a feeling of menace hums like a barely discernable bass note below each sentence The language is beautiful but you can’t shake that clammy unease This is how Lychack gets us—he lulls us with music then turns us sharply around to face the mirror Why do you think “Stolpestad” is told in that direct address narrative style? Lychack’s characters are usI can think of no better way to summarize The Architect of Flowers than this description which can be found on Lychack’s website “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”Lychack takes all the hard ugly misshapen realities of our world waves his pen like a magic wand reaches into the hat and pulls out—not rabbits or doves but something infinitely better words Language like we’ve never seen before and probably won’t see again for a long time At least until Lychack's next bookThis review originally appeared at The uivering Pen blog wwwdavidabramsbooksblogspotcom

  2. Lee Libro Lee Libro says:

    The publicists at Author Exposure provided me with a complimentary copy of William Lychack's short story collection The Architect of Flowers Such a title drew up mystical visions expectations that the book might treat the reader to not just stories but perhaps a brush with the Creator Himself While this might seem like a high expectation the writer in a way is the God of their own universe and in the case of William Lychack’s writing there can be no uestion that he is a powerful oneThe Architect of Flowers consists of thirteen stories most of which have appeared elsewhere including the Harvard Review and National Public Radio Brought together as a collection the reader begins to link them as a whole so the book is indeed like a field of flowers each with a uniue grace and beautyJust as some flowers have a dark thorny side so do some of Lychack’s stories For example “Stoplestad” is the story of a police officer called upon to put a family dog out of his misery The routine of this small town police officer doesn’t normally demand crossing such a line but his story told by him in the present and in near staccato notes communicates the sharp edge that separates his civic duty from his personal experienceNearly every sentence tells the actions as they occurred rather uickly as if the speaker must be numb from the experience but must relate the event to you almost as a confessional This portrayal of Officer Stopelstad’s experience manages to reveal his underpinnings makes us see him as a vulnerable man imperfect in fact so much so that as it turns out he failed to perform the duty thoroughly You see it seems he shot the dog but it didn’t die; it only lay there suffering Yet officer Stoplestad doesn’t learn of this error until later that night when he’s visited by the dog’s very angry masterJust like the everyday life of Officer Stoplestad the rest of the stories most often address everyday life The artistry of Lychack’s writing is his ability to shed light on the extraordinary elements that lie behind it As we read these stories in the universe of Lychack’s creation relationships and people no matter how mundane or tortured are inevitably imparted a certain grace The urge to carry this grace or see it restored to the world is a common theme How Lychack accomplishes this is much the same way that indeed I imagine God would by revealing the intricacies of flowers the individual shape of a species the flower’s petal the soft underside of its thorny stem all so one might appreciate its nature In keeping with the gist of the title it’s this aspect that makes Lychack’s collection of short stories truly a beautiful “garden”If you like literary fiction or stories with poetic leanings The Architect of Flowers will provide you with great reading Lychack’s writing style telegraphs meaning in dialogue and narrative that is often clipped and direct but it never fails to deliver a full punch I highly recommend it with a full five stars

  3. Danielle Danielle says:

    This book was not what I was expecting and I will admit I only got through two of the short stories before I said enough was enough Both stories that I read were not only just gross and unnecessary but pointless I was under the opinion this book was suppose to be about life and seeing into different aspects and lives of other people but so far all I have gotten is a story of a miserable police officer shooting a dog wrong so the family has to deal with putting it down properly and a story about a pregnant woman buying chicks just to kill them in all sorts of ways when they grew up because she was angry at them With no reason no meaning behind it I would not recommend anyone read this unless they like to read pointless stories that involve animal abuse and people with no personality or dimension and no meaningful plot

  4. Bonnie Brody Bonnie Brody says:

    William Lychack's stories in The Architect of Flowers are dreamlike and ethereal Each of them deals with a simple situation that could happen to any of us yet there is something eerie and other worldly about each story All the stories are detailed reminiscences of something that happened and could be reinterpreted in than one way In one story a police officer is called to a home where a dog is dying Out of kindness he shoots it In another story a woman buys a dozen chicks and all but one turn out to be roosters The only hen she has develops a skin disease has lice and won't lay eggs In another story a family hears God tell them to give up their jobs and all their possessions and go to Peoria Once they arrive in Peoria the church is awaiting them and a journalist writes their story In yet another story a woman conjures up a horrific lie in order to get her son to return home One of my favorite stories is 'Griswald' A boy's childhood experience haunts him as an adult and he still is not sure what to make of it 'A Stand of Fables' brought tears to my eyes As a modern fairy tale it has the pathos and loveliness of my favorite childhood stories 'To The Farm' is funny poignant and sad There were parts that made me laugh out loud and other parts where I turned inward moving with the motion of the storyThe 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

  5. Julie Julie says:

    This is one of those collections I will probably return to later because much of it was beautiful but much of its charm was lost on me here in June 2011 If I pick it up again in a year it might be my favorite book I don't know what pronouns ever did to this guy but he really doesn't like to use them and I guess the writers who praise him as poetic and lyrical were able to appreciate the sentence fragments and odd constructions I found them distracting But there are gems in this book The Old Woman and Her Thief was my favorite by far Really moving

  6. Annie Annie says:

    I walked by the Discover New Writers shelf at BN and picked this up I'm not usually very into new short stories but I was nearly unable to put this down Lychack's style is so uniue very terse but somehow he says a lot with very few words Gorgeous descriptions lots of very odd and intriguing characters LOVED it I just got his novel The Wasp Eater in the mail a few days ago and am about to start it Can't wait

  7. Joyce Joyce says:

    The book is called the Architect of Flowers like funeral flowers Dark stories in Families sadness and dysfunctional people I hope all our secrets aren't this tragic

  8. Susie Susie says:

    Reading this reminds me why I long to be an author The prose is pure synesthesialovely melding every sense to each paragraph We can feel taste smell imagine the sights and yet the stories themselves are not grand and meaningful Each compact story relates small moments and common idiosyncrasies that I could relate to such as raising a brood of chicks that turn out to be all roosters but oneor the pondering of an old woman who senses that her fear of her husband dying and leaving her alone might not really be a fear but a wishor the pleasant bright memories a man has of his boyhood neighbor might be hiding the secret that he was molestedLychack takes the tightly wound ball of yarn that is a memory a worry a childhood a good deed gone wrong the fanciful fable and knits beautiful prose stories just like the girl at the spinning wheel turning straw into gold Here is an excerpt The birds were barking behind the gardens calls so nagging and loud that she and the hybridizer circled around the porch to the sound Past the gardens past the green houses and the crows weren’t even birds out in the trees More like splashes of ink against the light One swinging up and around as if on a string Sunlight like lace over trees Caw caw caw Was hard to tell what the crows hated so much No than a handful of leaves Some kind of suirrel’s nest in the branches The hybridizer and his wife edging forward until they stood directly under the tree Crows loud then uiet then loud again A beehive a clot of gypsy moths the hybridizer and his wife trying to see and then this pale mask swiveled around to them face as sflat as a disk An owl She said it again—an owl—and the hair on her arms went electric Those eyes just staring down Tree so still it trembled Bird smaller than she’d thought Then the crows started up again Perhaps they never stopped loud and crass harsh the way they hounded the poor thing And all the while this face—such eyes—entire lifetime passing before its head tilted up again Everything had moved closer in the dusk and the owl loosened itself from the tree dropped forward and started away toward the woods Even the crows fell uiet owl strong and straight to that deep blue of trees in the distance long strokes of its wings as it went The crows so black they shone—one by one they started to peel away after the owl feathers hissing as they rowed into the distance And she felt herself in a dream as they followed—a dream she would have liked to dream—this strange dream where once upon a time an old woman emerged from a long dark wood The Architect of Flowers

  9. Eidalis Vaquedano Eidalis Vaquedano says:

    When I first saw this book at the store I had only picked it up because I liked the title After I read the first few pages I was glad I picked it up These short stories are all ones with such simple storylines and simple characters yet there is something so captivating about William Lychack's writing He is able to describe things in almost a dream like detail In the story Griswald the first few paragraphs have such great descriptions of the place and people Also in Like a Demon in the third paragraph he writes about how a man is looking off into the sunlight but it seems almost movie like He uses these vivid descriptions but still manages to find a balance of beleivable and relatable charactersOverall I am very happy that I came across this book because it not only was a great read but it also gave me the ability to see how descriptions can be so vivid and real I really enjoyed this boom an would definitely recommend it to a friend

  10. Jennifer Jennifer says:

    I tried to get into this book I really did All short story collections have some stories that are amazing and some that are lackluster unfortunately I didn't find many in this book that engaged me and none were amazing Something about the author's style was a miss for me I found the third person narratives didn't engage me at all and enjoyed the first person stories much

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