Brock Clarke

In An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England, adult life starts out on a self-inflicted tragic note for Sam Pulsifer when he is sentenced to 10 years in prison for burning down literary giant Emily Dickinson's house, killing a randy married couple in the process. Upon release he unsuccessfully attempts to live an ordinary life, but things take a wacky/destructive turn when other homes of noted American authors begin going up in flames. Though the protagonist is not the sharpest voice ever penned in the literary world ("The house was empty—you can always tell a house is empty, especially if you yell out several times, 'Hello! Mom? Dad? Anyone here?' and check each and every room for signs of life."), what emerges is an amusingly dim-witted mystery tale in the vein of The Big Lebowski. The story itself is highly meta, as Sam ponders the literary conventions and the tales authors tell—he even picks up and quickly loses interest in one of Brock Clarke's previous novels (The Ordinary White Boy).
Tue., Sept. 11, 7 p.m.

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