Title: An Arsonists’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England
Author: Brock Clarke
Genre: Adult Fiction
Length: 303 pgs.
Summary: Sam Pulsifer, the son of two English teachers, bumbles. He realizes this while in jail for an arson conviction (which killed two people) which no one believes was a complete accident. Finally released from jail, Sam attempts to blend into mainstream life again, only to find there are just certain things you can’t live down…. burning down Emily Dickinson’s house as a teenage, for one. Years go by and Sam’s father shows him a collection of letters, all from people who want Sam to burn down the houses of other famous American authors for their own reasons. When these houses start to catch fire mysteriously, Sam’s the most likely culprit, and it’s up to him to prove otherwise.
pg 82 – Because isn’t this what work is good for? Not so much a way to make your money, but a way you can feel normal even (especially) when you know you are not?
pg 89 – Because this is another thing your average American man in crisis does: he tries to go home, forgetting, momentarily, that he is the reason he left home in the first place, that the home is not his anymore, and that the crisis is him.
pg 155 – She reached over and gently put her hand on his yellow neck and left it there; he shivered noticeably, as though her touch were the best kind of ice.
Why should you read this book?
This book, I read somewhere, was supposed to be a dark comedy about a man who “bumbles.” Well, I agree that the narrator bumbles, he’s self-destructive for no discernable reason, which I find unfuriating and eventually boring, rather than funny. When I read, I tend to read for escapist reasons, or to see a new perspective, or to learn something about humanity (yes, even in romance…). This book only told me that people don’t change, they are selfish and self-descructive, and it’s better for everyone that we learn this as soon as possible.
As such, it’s a little hard for me to think anything other than the fact that Clarke is self-indulgent. While this book is well-written, I think it’s safe to say I’m not the target demographic. If you read it, let me know what you thought because I was all set to love this book and I hate disappointment.