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The Burning House

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  53 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
"The Burning House is an achingly lovely novel about the things that bind us together in this life and the things that pull us apart. Paul Lisicky has an extraordinary gift for exploring emotional nuance and the rhythms of desire. With this book he yet again asserts himself as one of the select writers who continues to teach me about the complexities of the human heart."—R ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Etruscan Press (first published May 1st 2011)
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Nov 08, 2011 Myfanwy rated it it was amazing
Isidore Mirsky, the narrator of Paul Lisicky’s gorgeous novel The Burning House, desperately wants to be a good man. He loves his wife. He loves where he lives. He wants to do good work. He wants a purpose. He wants to be good. The problem is that Isidore doesn’t really know who he is anymore outside of his lusts and fears and indiscretions. Indeed, it seems he has lost the ability to function in the moment.

Even as he feels his wife, Laura, falling away from him into illness, he also pushes her
Jim Breslin
May 21, 2012 Jim Breslin rated it really liked it
Paul Lisicky writes beautiful prose. This is the story of Isidore, a delicate loving man who is a bit lost in life. He loves his wife but has an affair. He also covets his wife's sister. He meanders through houses that are being constructed in his town, attends meetings as townspeople try to stop the construction of town homes.

At times, it's not an easy book to follow - the plot is amorphous - you are left to read between the lines. Isidore doesn't speak about his issues directly, the reader ha
Sana Haque
Mar 05, 2012 Sana Haque rated it liked it
We read the novel for class and I have to say the narrative was very poetic . However, Isidore was a man struggling to do the right not sleeping with his sister-in-law. He seemed like a coward to me from beginning to end.
Kevin Catalano
Aug 05, 2013 Kevin Catalano rated it it was amazing
On the cover of Paul Lisicky's Burning House, Jayne Anne Phillips blurbs, "A pitch-perfect gem of a novel." When I first read that, I wondered how a novel could be a "pitch-perfect gem." Having finished this, I get it.

Isidore Mirsky, the narrator of the novel, is a man in trouble -- existential and emotional. "If only I could talk with such ease when I was genuinely telling the truth. Telling the truth, I only sputtered and left spastic lapses in my sentences in some effort to find the right wo
Carol Ciavonne
Mar 16, 2015 Carol Ciavonne rated it it was amazing
The prose is beautiful to read, with so many brief but startling insights. All the more intriguing, as the narrator is both aware and supremely unaware of who he is and what is going on in his life. He lies to others, but also to himself, and yet I could not help caring about him and seeing him as he wants to be seen, a good man. This is the first of Paul Lisicky's books I have ever read, and I intend to read more because the work is literature... it's not just well-written; it's beautiful.
Apr 10, 2011 Joe rated it really liked it
I review Paul Lisicky’s new novel, The Burning House, in the May 31, 2011, edition of The Boston Globe.


The National Book Critics Circle chose my Boston Globe review of Paul Lisicky’s novella “The Burning House” as an exemplary review. It’s now at Powell’s on the “Review-a-Day” page.

Nov 01, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it
Novella centered on the narrator's lust for his wife's sister and ordinary events in a small town fighting over a housing development and the threats to a home brought on by the narrator's confused desires, yet steadfast decency. The writing is interesting and fresh, though the narrator's mental leaps into fantasy and the past were at times confusing (even to the narrator, it seemed).
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PAUL LISICKY is the author of The Narrow Door, Unbuilt Projects, The Burning House, Famous Builder, and Lawnboy. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, Conjunctions, Fence, The Iowa Review, The Offing, Ploughshares, Tin House, and many other anthologies and magazines. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he’s the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National ...more
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