Lychack, William 1966(?)-
Lychack, William 1966(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1966. Education: Connecticut College, B.A., 1988; University of Michigan, M.F.A., 1991.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Marly Rusoff & Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 524, Bronxville, NY 10708.
AWARDS, HONORS: Major Hopwood Award, University of Michigan, 1991, for an earlier version of The Wasp Eater.
England (nonfiction; for children), Children's Press (New York, NY), 1995.
Russia (nonfiction; for children), Children's Press (New York, NY), 1996.
The Wasp Eater (novel), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.
Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including TriQuarterly and Ploughshares.
SIDELIGHTS: In his first novel, The Wasp Eater, William Lychack focuses on Daniel, a ten-year-old living in Connecticut in 1979 who is trying to cope with his parents' separation. The rift comes when his mother, Anna, catches his father, Robert, in bed with another woman. Anna is adamant in her refusal to forgive Robert, who tries to win his way back into his wife's heart through his son. At the same time, Anna is using Daniel to keep her husband at bay. As a result, the boy finds himself torn between the two. The book's title comes from a scene in the novel where Daniel listens to Anna go on a tirade about Robert and the boy proceeds to eat a dead wasp he is holding in his hand. Describing the event in his book, Lychack writes: that Daniel ate the wasp "as if trying to swallow fear itself, the soft bead of it rolling over his tongue and teeth. He stayed silent, swallowing and trading weak for strong." Eventually, Daniel takes a fateful trip to recover his mother's engagement ring that his father has sold to a pawn shop in New York. Robert goes to New York to bring his son back, and the two embark on a road trip during which they both come to terms with their relationship.
Although several reviewers praised Lychack's writing style, some felt that The Wasp Eater, is somehow incomplete. Writing in the Washington Post Book World, Maud Newton called Lychack's prose "fine and gentle" but also noted that the author's "succinct prose style prevents any lasting insights from reaching the page." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented, "The honesty of Lychack's portrayal of a father's failure to make good is undermined by awkward shifts in perspective and by strained lyricism." Many reviewers, however, found the novel an effective portrayal of a young boy coming to terms with a father who will never be the man he wants or imagines. In a review for the Los Angeles Times, Mark Rozzo called the novel a "graceful and all-too-brief exploration of a family in crisis," while Deborah Donovan, writing in Booklist, asserted that The Wasp Eater is a "beautifully understated, delicately crafted debut."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Lychack, William, The Wasp Eater, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.
Booklist, July, 2004, Deborah Donovan, review of The Wasp Eater, p. 1818.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2004, review of The Wasp Eater, p. 651.
Library Journal, June 15, 2004, Barbara Hoffert, review of The Wasp Eater, p. 59, and interview with author, p. 60.
Los Angeles Times, October 3, 2004, Mark Rozzo, review of The Wasp Eater, p. R10.
New York Times Book Review, October 24, 2004, Polly Shulman, review of The Wasp Eater, p. 20.
Ploughshares, fall, 2004, Don Lee, review of The Wasp Eater, p. 214.
Publishers Weekly, August 2, 2004, review of The Wasp Eater, p. 53.
Washington Post Book World, August 8, 2004, Maud Newton, review of The Wasp Eater, p. 6.
Marly Rusoff & Associates Web site, http://www.rusoffagency.com/ (March 1, 2005).