kelcey parker ervick
Liliane’s Balcony is a multi-voiced novella-in-flash set at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Built for Pittsburgh merchants E.J. and Liliane Kaufmann in 1935, the house is as much a character as it is a setting. One September night in 1952, Liliane Kaufmann—tired of her husband’s infidelities—overdoses on pain pills in her bedroom. From there, Liliane’s Balcony alternates Mrs. Kaufmann’s mostly true story with the fictional narratives of four modern-day tourists who arrive at the historic home in the midst of their own personal crises, all of which culminate on Mrs. Kaufmann’s over-sized, cantilevered balcony. With its ghosts, motorcycles, portraits, Vikings, failed relationships, and many layered voices, Kelcey Parker’s Liliane’s Balcony is as dizzying and intricately beautiful as the architectural wonder in which it is set. [Published by Rose Metal Press in 2013]
Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
"Parker deftly weaves each character's spidery thread into a rich meditation on the natural and built worlds, the lasting and the passing. The present echoes the past that thrums beneath the roar of the falls, and Parker delivers a symphony of histories both real and imagined."
"The latest from Parker is an inventive novella hybrid, a mix of prose and poetry, past and present, heartbreak and humor. [...] Not unlike Fallingwater’s structure, which masterfully balances the man-made with the natural, Parker sculpts and controls myriad, nearly unwieldy elements to construct a driven plot that illuminates the perched house and those who live within it."
"But like the house in which it is set, Parker's novella-in-flash contains a genuinely touching human story -- several, actually -- equally deserving of attention."
"A syncopated narrative which captures the rhythms and inflections of a multiplicity of voices."
"I found this novella to be remarkably participatory—as art history, as criticism, as meditation, as its own variety of group tour through this site and this history."
""These spare pages please and engage the eye, heart, and mind, like leaves in a chapbook. Liliane’s Balcony is a small elegant book in every way. Readers will be inspired to visit Fallingwater and listen for Liliane’s voice above the falls."
"Because Parker’s sense of character is so strong, and her language so fluid and flowing, the shifting foci do not cause the reader to stumble but instead pull her forward, eager to learn more of each character—as well as of the historical Liliane and Edgar—to watch the way these separate lives seem in some ways so similar and, often, so avoidably tragic."
Interview by Valerie Sayers at The Rumpus
Podcast interview with Brad Listi at Other People
Music: A Play List for the book at Largehearted Boy
My list of "7 Great Works of Fiction inspired by Architecture" at Flavorwire
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