Book: Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England

arsonistsguidetonewenglandTitle: 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.

Excerpts:

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.

16 thoughts on “Book: Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England

  1. Eliza – I know! You should still try it and see what you think. It wouldn’t be the first time I tried reading a book again after a friend’s suggestion and ended up loving it.

    Zoe – The title attracted me first, and then I read so many good things…so I was pretty disappointed once I actually read it.

    Laughingwolf – All right, I’ve gotta ask…do you buy a book without reading it first, or do you try out the book at a library before buying it? I do the latter and I’d love to know, if you do the former, why you do it. Aren’t you ever afraid of buying a book you don’t like?

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  2. Eliza – I know! You should still try it and see what you think. It wouldn’t be the first time I tried reading a book again after a friend’s suggestion and ended up loving it.

    Zoe – The title attracted me first, and then I read so many good things…so I was pretty disappointed once I actually read it.

    Laughingwolf – All right, I’ve gotta ask…do you buy a book without reading it first, or do you try out the book at a library before buying it? I do the latter and I’d love to know, if you do the former, why you do it. Aren’t you ever afraid of buying a book you don’t like?

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  3. if i read it from the library, i may or may not buy it

    lately, i try to get as much info online as i can, but that does not always help, since i’ve liked ‘rejected’ ones

    for the most part, i have authors i like to read, but also try out those i don’t know… yet… based on writer friends’ thoughts, at times

    i have bought books that stank, even partially read, so i have no prob giving them away, with a warning…

    that’s only happened with a total of five or six times, over 30+ years

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  4. if i read it from the library, i may or may not buy it

    lately, i try to get as much info online as i can, but that does not always help, since i’ve liked ‘rejected’ ones

    for the most part, i have authors i like to read, but also try out those i don’t know… yet… based on writer friends’ thoughts, at times

    i have bought books that stank, even partially read, so i have no prob giving them away, with a warning…

    that’s only happened with a total of five or six times, over 30+ years

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  5. I try to get information about a book I might read online as well. I also watch reader communities on LiveJournal, and always pick up a BookPage from my local library to see what the up-and-coming books are for the month.

    It’s interesting how personal preferences make all the difference, right? I’ve liked many “rejected” books, and then I’ve disliked books that I supposedly should have loved.

    Even so, I’ve made a pact with myself to only buy books that I love from now on…I just don’t have the space otherwise!

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  6. I try to get information about a book I might read online as well. I also watch reader communities on LiveJournal, and always pick up a BookPage from my local library to see what the up-and-coming books are for the month.

    It’s interesting how personal preferences make all the difference, right? I’ve liked many “rejected” books, and then I’ve disliked books that I supposedly should have loved.

    Even so, I’ve made a pact with myself to only buy books that I love from now on…I just don’t have the space otherwise!

    Like

  7. I’m bummed you didn’t like this one. I thought Clarke’s book was great… so much so, I expect it to end up on my “top ten books I read this year” list. I like how Sam gets caught up in the other fires, how one “small” event in his life alters his entire future and how he’s really just looking for forgiveness.

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  8. I’m bummed you didn’t like this one. I thought Clarke’s book was great… so much so, I expect it to end up on my “top ten books I read this year” list. I like how Sam gets caught up in the other fires, how one “small” event in his life alters his entire future and how he’s really just looking for forgiveness.

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  9. Me too. In fact, I put this on my list because you liked it so much. I don’t know what happened. I loved the actual writing of the book; my excerpts show Clarke’s a great writer. But I just couldn’t get into it. I think the advertising waylaid me. I expected it to be dark, but comical. But it was just kind of dark for me.

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  10. Me too. In fact, I put this on my list because you liked it so much. I don’t know what happened. I loved the actual writing of the book; my excerpts show Clarke’s a great writer. But I just couldn’t get into it. I think the advertising waylaid me. I expected it to be dark, but comical. But it was just kind of dark for me.

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