Place Published: Braddock, PA
Publisher: Braddock Avenue Books
Date Published: February 2020
There is good reason why William Lychack’s writing has been called “Precise, exhilarating, sometimes wonderfully funny and always beautiful” (Margot Livesey). In prose you can practically feel moving in your hands, Cargill Falls takes you through a series of unforgettable scenes that coalesce into an extended meditation on the meanings we give—or fail to give—certain moments in our lives.
The story begins when an adult William Lychack, hearing of the suicide of a childhood friend, sets out to make peace with a single, long-departed winter’s day when the two boys find a gun in the woods. Taking place over the course of just a few hours, this simple existential fact gathers totemic force as it travels backwards and forwards in time through Lychack’s consciousness and opens onto the unfinished business in the lives of the boys, their friends, parents, teachers, and even the family dog.
Cargill Falls is a moving conversation with the past that transports us into the mysteries of love and longing and, finally, life itself. Brimming with generosity and wisdom, this is a novel that reveals a writer at the top of his form.
Praise for Cargill Falls
Cargill Falls is an immediate classic. At once essential and profound and hugely entertaining, the story of the two boys at the heart of this book, and the men they become, follows in the tradition of great coming of age stories like Stand by Me, and then twists and reinvents and does the tradition better, upending all that we know and expect. It’s rare to come across books like this. A writer hopes that once in his or her life he or she can write something so honest.
—Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children and Alice and Oliver
In how it slows down the world, William Lychack’s Cargill Falls achieves something quite unexpected: this is a book that makes your heart drum loudly, that leaves you breathless under the tall canopy of a forest in Connecticut in the 1980s, that pulls you toward a single day’s burning, bright core. Not since William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow has a novel captured so wondrously the landscape of youth, regret, mystery, and violence, and done it with such tenderness, humor, and raw, wild energy.
—Paul Yoon, author of Once the Shore, Snow Hunters, and The Mountain
William Lychack’s exquisite sensibility of language combines with delicate dramatic tension as he explores the possible meaninglessness of causality. What if one event is not related to another? This is the best novel about adolescent boys I can remember.
—Blanche McCrary Boyd, author of Tomb of the Unknown Racist and The Revolution of Little Girls
A double dimension dream of a book, Cargill Falls trapezes adroitly between the quotidian's ancient ache and the elusive, gleamingly provocative escutcheon of the ideal. It is moving, tender, and compelling from start to finish.
—Patrick McCabe, author of The Butcher Boy and Heartland
More praise for William Lychack
The Wasp Eater
William Lychack never overdoes the meaning or the melodrama here; instead, his aim is small, so small that only a writer with a measured and very precise command of language could attempt to achieve it . . . Lychack simply makes a reader feel the sadness inherent in this whole business of trying to connect with other human beings.
—Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air
This spare, meticulous novel opens out like a poem, its deceptively casual images bearing an entire universe of weight.
—Polly Shulman, The New York Times Book Review
The Wasp Eater is an unpretentious, quiet-but-not-whispery book that engages the reader through the eyes of 10-year-old Daniel… The simplicity and clarity of Lychack’s writing are effective in their precise portrayal of a child’s mind and the powerlessness of childhood. The writing is so vivid that the reader, stuck in Daniel’s thoughts, can sometimes feel as helpless and clueless as the boy.
This is how it feels to be a son whose parents are unstable yet almost within reach, if only he can love them enough.
—The San Francisco Chronicle
The Wasp Eater sounds more surreal than it is. At heart, it's a graceful and all-too-brief exploration of a family in crisis, of an uneasy father-son alliance and of a boy who finds himself on the cusp of adolescence with much more to digest than just an insect and a diamond ring.
—The Los Angeles Times
The Wasp Eater is superb. Such perfection of tone, such clarity of emotion, such spare and beautiful language.
—Andrea Barrett, Ship Fever, Servants of the Map
The Architect of Flowers
These stories kick ass. Beautifully done. I was delighted and intrigued.
—George Saunders, Tenth of December, Lincoln in the Bardo
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 Last Secret, Songs in Ordinary Time
Lychack evokes a world that is mysterious, sometimes wonderful, and sometimes downright frightening. The Architect of Flowers is consistently rewarding for its restless search for possibility, for the author’s willingness to take risks and jettison the illusion of narrative authority without reducing his stories to postmodern smarty-games.
—The New York Journal
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, Our Kind, The Gardens of Kyoto
Along with his new novel, Cargill Falls, William Lychack is the author of five previous books: The Wasp Eater (a novel), The Architect of Flowers (stories), a cultural history of cement, and two titles for children. His work has appeared in Conjunctions, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, The American Scholar, Story Magazine, and elsewhere, including The Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and on public radio’s This American Life. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Christopher Isherwood Foundation Award, a Sherwood Anderson Award, and has been a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife and three children, and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.
More can be found at www.lychack.com