The Narrow Road, A Memoir of Friendship

The Narrow Road, A Memoir of Friendship

The Narrow Road, A Memoir of Friendship

Paul Lisicky






In The Narrow Door, Paul Lisicky creates a compelling collage of scenes and images drawn from two long-term relationships, one with a woman novelist and the other with his ex-husband, a poet. The contours of these relationships shift constantly. Denise and Paul, stretched by the demands of their writing lives, drift apart, and Paul’s romance begins to falter. And the world around them is frail: environmental catastrophes like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti, and local disturbances make an unsettling backdrop to the pressing concerns of Denise’s cancer diagnosis and Paul’s impending breakup. Lisicky’s compassionate heart and resilience seem all the stronger in the face of such searing losses. His survival–hard-won, unsentimental, authentic–proves that in turning toward loss, we embrace life.


Jennifer Senior, The New York Times

Mr. Lisicky has a gift for understanding suffering, an added bundle of receptors for detecting loneliness.


Bravely honest. . . . Brimming with compassion and tenderness, The Narrow Door explores loss, love, and all the often painful facets of modern relationships.

27 Most Exciting New Books of 2016

Nathan Deuel, Los Angeles Times

The story of any great friendship is a bit like the story of being in love, just as the story of a long life might eventually lead to its end. It’s Lisicky’s radical honesty about all this―life and death, friendship and lost love, ambition and failure―that makes this book so special and at times so unsettling.

Publishers Weekly

Breathtaking and heartbreaking.

Peter Geye, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

By the time I finished the first chapter of Paul Lisicky’s lyrical new memoir, I was certain this was an essential book.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, San Francisco Chronicle

The friendship Lisicky conjures [in The Narrow Door] is a relationship in the fullest sense ― intoxicating, brutal, draining and sustaining.

Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

By turns raw, wry, and meditative, Lisicky offers a painfully honest accounting of his own failures and limitations; ultimately, this is the story of how a heart opens, and the endless, literally death-defying work of keeping it that way.

Shelf Awareness

The Narrow Door is literary, smart and poignant, an extended eulogy for a friend and a meditation on friendship.

Pasha Malla, The Globe and Mail (Canada)

When I finished The Narrow Door, I felt not only like a fortunate witness to a beautiful elegy, but personally engaged in ways I’m sure the author never intended. There’s a certain type of alchemy at work when the right book comes along at the right time, when our minds as readers turn especially porous to certain ideas and experiences such that the book resonates far beyond the page.

Kirkus reviews

Lisicky realized a painful truth. The closer he got to people, the more he had to acknowledge their freedom to die and/or leave him. With empathy and emotional finesse, the author renders the fragility of interpersonal connections, and he offers insight into the complicated nature of the human heart. Honest and compassionate.

Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

Intelligent and intimate, fierce and tender, real and raw, Paul Lisicky’s The Narrow Door is an unforgettable memoir about love and loss, friendship and forgiveness. It had me in its thrall from page one.

Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

The most moving account of love among artists I’ve ever read. The Narrow Door is astonishing.