An Arsonist's Guied to Writers' Homes in New England

Arsonist's Guide - burning lady memoirizer, letters, practical advice, authors' homes

From the blog of author Brock Clarke:

Bad News

posted on September 5th, 2007

Bad News: my picks to win this year’s US Open have let me down. It’s nearly too painful to think about. I can’t even bring myself to type their names.

Anyway, here are some new reviews.

“Funny, profound . . . Larded with grabby aphorisms . . . memorable images and bittersweet epiphanies, Clarke’s novel is an agile melding of faux-memoir and mystery. Spot-on timing gives it snap, and a rich sense of perversity . . . lends texture. It’s a seductive book with a payoff on every page.”–People Magazine (“Critic’s Choice,” four-stars)

“Part mystery, part comedy, part insightful memoir, Arsonist defies the conventional formula in producing a wildly entertaining novel.”–Daily Candy

“Clarke’s novel sizzles. . . . This straight-faced, postmodern comedy scorches all things literary, from those moldy author museums to the excruciating question-and-answer sessions that follow public readings . . . They’re all singed under Clarke’s crisp wit. . . . [An Arsonist's Guide] is written in an innocent, deadpan voice, packed full of Sam [Pulsifer]‘s bittersweet observations and fueled by Clarke’s satire. . . . Literature, Clarke suggests in this witty lament, is somehow the pain and salve of our lives. We’re drawn to stories like a moth to you know what.”–Washington Post Book World

Clarke’s satire scorches a wide expanse of our cultural landscape. Left smoldering are Harry Potter books (unnamed but obvious); pretentious macho novelists; higher education – with a devastating caricature of an English professor who dismisses an array of major American writers with a single curt, crude sentence; vacuous suburbia; our increasingly nonliterate society and mendacious memoirs. …Clarke can make you gasp…At the end of the short-story ancestor of “Arsonist’s Guide,” the narrator declares he is sick of talking about the fire and will never speak of it again. Lovers of satiric fiction will be grateful that he lied.”–Cleveland Plain Dealer

“An absurd if weirdly compelling faux ‘memoir,’ which takes aim at the danger of stories–at least false ones . . . [An Arsonist's Guide] gets at some unexpectedly poignant emotional truths.”–USA Today

“[A] dark, dry, fast and furious novel.” Martha Stewart’s Blueprint

“Clarke has the ability to crack us up with his clever insight into human nature and suburban angst, but there is also a depth to his characters that helps raise the story above straight satire.” MSNBC

“It is hysterical, it is tragic and it is maddening. . . . Like TV analysts who deconstruct Tiger Woods’ swing, it’s not easy to do justice to writers like Brock Clarke. But Iknow just enough to recommend An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England to anyone, and especially to anyone who wants to read the best, newest manifestation of great American writing.”–Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“A quirky comic novel . . . strangely beguiling. . . . Clarke [has a] way with sly humorous observations.”–Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“It’s difficult to think of a premise for a literary detective story . . . that could be more enticing. . . . [Clarke] depict[s] in a funny and heartbreaking manner the subtle ways in which parents, children and spouses fail each other . . . [and] brilliantly captures his characters’ environments.”–Hartford Courant

“An incisive satire that takes on everything from authors to reading groups and Harry Potter . . . sharp wit.”–Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Fall Guide Picks: New York magazine’s annual Fall preview issue recommends Arsonist’s Guide along with 25 other fall titles, and it’s also included in Fall previews in the San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post, and San Jose Mercury News.

3 comments follow:

  1. At 3:37 pm on September 10th, 2007, Lisa Kenney commented:

    I’ve really been looking forward to your book’s release and I plan to check out the podcast on Writers Revealed. Congratulations on all of the great reviews!

  2. At 10:04 pm on September 10th, 2007, Cal Godot commented:

    How you picked anyone other than Federer and Henin is beyond me. But hey: we all have our vices.

    I love Arsonist’s Guide. Loooove it. I’m pushing copies through our LA bookstore (Book Soup) as fast as I can. Algonquin books don’t tend to catch on around here for some reason. I’m keeping this one on the employee recommendations shelf as long as I have copies.

    Fantastic work, Brock. Simply fantastic.

  3. At 2:48 pm on September 18th, 2007, Martin Fulmer commented:

    I agree with Cal, Brock. I’d love to see Federer lose, too, but that kid wins, wins, wins, and wins to a higher degree than I’ve seen. But I understand pulling against him. I’d love for someone, anyone to beat him.

    By the way, did you see the new American kid, eighteen years old, really-really fast, but not too big? He looks like a possibly great tennis player to me but I can’t recall his name.