rev. of The Wasp Eater by William Lychack

Issue #94
Fall 2004

The Wasp Eater, a novel by William Lychack (Houghton Mifflin): The scope of Lychack’s short novel—his debut book—is deceptively small. In 1979, a ten-year-old boy named Daniel in Connecticut is caught between his estranged parents. His father, a former marine with a "sweepstakes smile and sly charm" who works as a window washer, is booted out of the house after his wife discovered him in bed with a waitress. Daniel’s mother refuses to forgive her husband, and the boy teeters in despair within this "family of silence." Yet this story, told with old-school lyricism, overflows with emotional tension. Everything appears fraught with betrayal, on the edge of "some great catastrophe," and we fully understand Daniel’s desperation when it’s stated: "It was all he seemed to want as he stood there, to let all of this ache and anger end, to let them all somehow be released." —Don Lee