The Architect of Flowers (2011)
A small town policeman brings himself to shoot a family’s injured dog; an old woman secretly trains a crow to steal for her; a young boy at his father’s wake finds the man lying in flowers as if in a bath; a hybridizer’s wife discovers the perfect lie to bring her family magically together again; all the characters in this collection yearn to somehow re-enchant the world, to turn the ordinary and profane into the sacred and beautiful again, to make beauty serve as an antidote to grief. Set in dying mill towns of New England, in timeless fishing villages by the sea, in great dreamlike cemeteries north of Greenpoint, each of these stories tries to necessitate the accidents that befall us, to build something durable from the worries and joys we carry, our lives so often prefigured by the losses and betrayals that we strive so hard to untangle, to make sense of and ultimately redeem. A middle-aged couple tries to salvage the deer they have accidentally killed; a pregnant woman brings home a box full of chicks to raise in the yard; from ghostwriter to ghost runners to ghosts in a chapel, these stories center on relationships—husbands and wives, fathers and sons—and bring to life the honest work and quiet grace involved in making-do, in holding onto all we care about as we say goodbye, the world always more strange and complex than we expect, love always more familiar and simple than we imagine.
*Portions of this collection have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and on public radio’s This American Life.
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