There is a price to pay for infidelity. In William Lychack's first novel, The Wasp Eater, the protagonists are antagonists, wrestling each other for a shot at happiness, whatever that ambiguous descriptor many mean.
Anna is a woman betrayed by her husband's infidelity. She asks for no explanation, as no explanation would be sufficient. Forgiveness is not an option. In a fit of controlled rage, she throws everything her husband owns into the yard and changes the locks. Stalked by her own inner demons and unable to sleep, Anna scuffs across the floor in her robe, her hair wrapped in a towel, pondering how life ever got so dark. Her husband Bob is unable to remain faithful, but also unable to let go of his wife and son. His ever-present cigarette burns an amber hole in the night outside his son's window, night after night. A window washer by trade, Bob knows how to make the outside look clean, but the inside isn't as easily purified. Their son Daniel is caught in the middle of this disintegrating marriage, mired in emotions he can't comprehend or prevent. Lychack writes with an eye for nuanced detail on multiple levels. Emotional trauma is mirrored by mundane predicaments, and spiritual scars are reflected by physical aberrations. More than a simple narrative on the breakdown of the family, The Wasp Eater is a powerful treatise on the devastation wrought when a person refuses to forgive, the bond that ties sons to fathers, and the life that sometimes only comes through death.