“This is meant to be the story of all lives, though I’m talking about one in particular,” Lisicky writes, and if the goal of Unbuilt Projects is “to be the story of all lives,” Lisicky has succeeded. Adept at harnessing the highs of life that are ruthlessly countered by lows— “see how the plants grow. And die a little”—these pieces are anchored by truths and by Truth. With an aptitude for creating vivid scenes, Lisicky envelops us in his stories, so though we did not stand under “The sky so scrubbed with stars it hurts,” it is as if we did.
We encounter a collision of God, sex, family, childhood and adulthood within the realm of these short fiction pieces, and we encounter the palpable pain of the speaker as he mourns a mother lost to dementia: “Who knew you were the ground we walked on, dreamed on?” Through the intersection of these varied themes, we are made privy to the speaker’s interior world—“And all I can say, today, is Joy, visit me now”—as well as made witness to the exterior world—“Sun on skin, hot gold light frying the hydrangea.” Ultimately, these stories give us everything, and so we are left wanting nothing, except more.