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Published in 2004, William Lychack’s first novel The Wasp Eater—about a ten-year-old boy’s attempt to reunite his parents after his father’s infidelity—won praise from the New York Times for its “spare, meticulous” prose with “its deceptively casual images bearing an entire universe of weight.”

Written over 20 years, the lyrical stories in Lychack’s follow-up, The Architect of Flowers—from which the following story is taken—continue to explore the dark and tender moments of everyday life. Writing about his latest book, the Vermont author says, “I’ve always hoped to cast some spell from which the reader might awake, finally, the…

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