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The Wasp Eater

3.12  ·  Rating Details ·  165 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
"The Wasp Eater has an uncanny precision about love and forgiveness . . . It is one of the best narratives I have ever read about those who are unforgiven, and the effect of this refusal on a child." -- Charles Baxter

Deeply felt and wholly original, William Lychack's heart-rending debut charts a ten-year-old boy's quest to reunite his estranged parents. After learning of
Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 7th 2005 by Mariner Books (first published 2004)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jodi Sh.
Oct 16, 2012 Jodi Sh. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-know-you
It doesn't hurt that I have a little crush on Bill. But then, it's my understanding that every woman who has ever met him has a little crush on him.

Jun 23, 2010 Becca rated it it was ok
I chose a smaller book this time, simul-reading this with The Godfather, not sure I’d be able to finish both in the loan time.

The story tracks that of a young boy and his parents after his mother finds out his father cheated on her. She throws him out the house. The remainder of the book has the boy feeling torn between the adults, wanting them back together, wanting to be with one or the other and feeling guilty.

For as simply told as The Godfather was, this was far more lyrical. It seems to ski
Apr 20, 2016 Jeremiah rated it liked it
Shelves: white-male
William Lychack is a brilliant short story writer. Every single one I've read I have enjoyed immensely. There is a lyricism and energy about them that make them some of my favorites in recent history.

The Wasp Eater, his first novel, reads like it should have been short stories. There are four or five distinct episodes, which Lychack attempts to weave together into a novel. Ultimately, it doesn't work that well. This is not to take away from his excellent prose -- there were certain lines that ac
Jun 18, 2009 Karen rated it liked it
THE WASP EATER is a story about a young boy who is caught in the middle when his parents split up. It's a dark story, yet the prose reads like poetry. I'm not sure if I enjoyed it so much, or I just kept reading because I wanted to see what would happen at the end.

I don't feel like I really knew the characters...... Yet I felt for the boy, Daniel. I felt his pain. That feeling of humiliation when you are doing the wrong thing in front of adults....because you don't know what the right thing is..
Jan 16, 2010 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
This book was really hard for me to get through in a day. I found it confusing, and the transitions were poor. It was a good story, but the characters aggravated me and the plot didn't flow. It was not a horrible book, but definitely not one of my favorites. I suspect that it may be one of those books that you can only enjoy if you've lived through a similar experience, but I'm not sure of that either.
Cynthia Haggard
Oct 07, 2014 Cynthia Haggard rated it liked it
William Lychack’s THE WASP EATER is a gem of a book, at 164 pages more of a novella than a novel. It is written in beautifully spare prose. Here is an example of what I mean, taken from the opening:

She became a widow well before his father died. It was how she managed–the grief made her strong, the man dead before he died, and the boy still just a boy, a little wisp of a kid, ten years old, an only child, end of story. End of story, except she stood in his bedroom doorway that afternoon and sai
Philip Alexander
Oct 10, 2014 Philip Alexander rated it really liked it
Just read this for the second time. This a shining example of a simple tale, well told. Lychack's clean, economical prose helps propel this story, which is essentially about twelve year old Daniel Cussler, a solitary, thoughtful boy hoping against, and occasionally trying to prevent, his parent's imminent separation / divorce. Lychack captures all sides of this family; their strengths and their failings -- no one emerges from the ordeal blameless, smelling of roses. Highly recommended for ...more
Oct 02, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it
One of the few books I've ever read all in one day. I could not put it down. Anyone who's ever been in a dysfunctional relationship can relate to what's happening, and telling the story from the point of view of a child was a brilliant idea - it made me all the more riveted, desperately wanting a happy outcome but knowing in my heart that life, in these situations, rarely gives one. I was not disappointed or depressed at the end. The author has a clear idea of what he wants to say and does not ...more
Nov 14, 2012 Susie rated it it was ok
I think I made a mistake by reading Lychack's book of short stories, The Architect of Flowers, first. I so enjoyed those stories and Lychack's prose. I found The Wasp Eater a let down. While most of the novel seemed to be built around the same incidents and people found in his short stories, the beautiful narrative was missing. It was still a worthwhile read and Lychack's descriptions of what it feels like to be alone, abandoned, confused, struggling and to be a kid caught in between two parents ...more
What a strange and sad little book. I liked this novella, but didn't really love it. I am not quite sure why, though. Mostly because there just seemed like something was missing, or lacking, though I am not exactly sure what it was... The father's character was the focal point of the whole book but he seemed more like a shadow of a man than a real man. Perhaps it was this character flaw that made me feel like there was something lacking in the book... Still, it was a fascinating and engrossing ...more
Andrew Pessin
Jan 08, 2012 Andrew Pessin rated it really liked it
A lovely book, written in a spare style, with a lot of underlying emotion that just barely ripples the surface ... Reminds me a bit of the delicate touch of Penelope Fitzgerald, nicely captures the feel of 1970s Connecticut, of a family falling apart, of a father who is kind of charming but more importantly a scoundrel, of a ten-year-old boy who doesn't know whether he wants his father back in his life (after the father cheats on the mother) or permanently out .... Definitely worth reading ....
missy jean
Jan 16, 2010 missy jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Books like this make me rethink my "five stars only go to books that I've read multiple times" policy. I finished it thinking, how could I reasonably expect a novel to be better than this?! It seems unfair :) The writing in the Wasp Eater is so descriptive and beautiful, and the tale is so moving.
May 25, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it
Despite the fact that I found there to be way too many similes in the imagery, I still liked the underlying honest struggle of a 10 year old boy trying to reunite his parents. The book improved greatly as the story unfolded-- I would have rated this 2 stars early on, but my rating is based more on the perfect pitch of the ending.
Apr 19, 2010 Weasel rated it did not like it
A must read if you wish to be bored. Or perhaps if trapped in earthquake rubble with it and a source of light.

If you wish to learn something, pick up a biography or if you want to be entertained grab any of the zillion technothriller action mysteries.
Eva Ruff
Jul 14, 2015 Eva Ruff rated it really liked it
This was a good read but once I finished it, I felt almost haunted. I was intrigued and carried along with the characters but it almost felt a little ... cold. I liked the book, but I almost feel bad for doing so. And yet I would recommend reading it.
Jun 20, 2009 Tinytextiles rated it really liked it
An engrossing and very tender story about a young boy trying to reunite his parents failed marriage. I liked the book's theme but the story did not always ring true. It would be interesting to see how a male reader feels about this story.
Christine Laliberte
Mar 24, 2011 Christine Laliberte rated it liked it
It was a good read, but I found the lack of knowledge about the situation a little annoying. However, since he was trying to tell the story in the child's point of view, then maybe he did a great job, since children are good at 'sensing' things and not necessarily knowing the full details.
Aug 27, 2010 Amos rated it it was amazing
A ten year old boy tries to process his parents seperation, and what that means for life as he's come to know it, in this slim yet profoundly touching tale. A story I'll remember from an author I'll be keeping an eye on....
Apr 08, 2010 Marjorie rated it really liked it
One day, quick read. The descriptions were very well done. It was like watching a movie in my head.
Natalie Serber
Mar 31, 2009 Natalie Serber rated it liked it
While I enjoyed the tone of this quiet book, I found I felt too removed from the characters. The ending however was pitch perfect.
Apr 23, 2008 Colleen rated it liked it
Dark and often confusing, just like life for a child during an crisis in a marriage. Many adults feel children should not be told of such matters between adults. Those adults should read this book.
Jul 04, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
If you're at Lesley you must read this, if you're not, you also must read this. A book you want to gulp down all at once.
Jan 21, 2016 Katewood16 rated it liked it
While I think this book is well written, I think, bottom line, it's not my thing. Broken family, the mind of a ten-year old boy, it just just didn't grab me.
May 06, 2008 Chad rated it it was amazing
This is a truly amazing short novel about a child in the middle of a divorce. The novel does a great job of capturing the general helplessness of childhood. It's a nice short book.
Kelly rated it it was ok
Oct 22, 2012
Scott Lasser
Scott Lasser rated it it was amazing
Feb 19, 2012
Jan 26, 2015 Cathryn rated it it was ok
A quick read.
Emily rated it it was ok
Feb 07, 2015
Brittany rated it did not like it
Nov 23, 2011
Alana rated it liked it
Jun 17, 2010
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WILLIAM LYCHACK is the author of the novel The Wasp Eater. His work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize, and on public radios This American Life.
More about William Lychack...

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