Famous Builder, by Paul Lisicky
If I press a book into your hand and beg you to read it, you will know that I am doing so because I love the book and I want to share that love with you. When you examine the beloved book, you will note how many pages I’ve dog eared. The more dog ears, the deeper my love.
Paul Lisicky’s gorgeous, tender book of essays, Famous Builder, has a dog ear about every other page. I loved it that much.
If you start off your book, very first thing, having to spell your name in a classroom–you’ve got me. Right there. Welcome to every first day of my life.
But then if you carry on with wonderful, evocative, empathetic renderings of your family and childhood neighbors and relatives (Mrs. Fox! I picture her as Anne Bancroft playing Mrs. Robinson) and your own place within this world and your own childhood longings (to become a famous builder of all the wondrous and geeky things), you’ve got me even further.
Lisicky pages through his life and opens old wounds and examines them, but never once paints himself or his family the victim. His parents are human beings and he is a son who tries hard and sometimes fails and sometimes lets go. He is a son who yearns, just as they want him to yearn.
While this is partly a book of coming of age, mostly this is a book of home, and what Lisicky (and his brothers) knows is that home is moving away from you just as you know it is there–home could be a department store on its way out or waterfront homes built on dredge and fill or a hotel room.
Home is in the moment:
“I turn back toward the room. If it were mine to do such a thing, I’d secure this moment with the heaviest anchor: Arden taking up all the space he needs; Beau resting a thick paw on Mark’s forearm; Mark touching my leg as I walk by, just to let me know he’s thinking of me.”
A beautiful, touching book. Read it.