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

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

Cast of Characters

In addition to being the protagonist of this novel, Sam Pulsifer has been a packaging scientist, accidental arsonist and murderer, ex-con, amateur detective, and bumbler. He is currently trying to find out who is burning down writers' homes in New England before he gets blamed for the crimes. He has lived, during the course of this novel, with his wife and two children and then with his mother and father, all of Amherst, Massachusetts. He is working on a memoir and also a novel, although he's not entirely sure of the difference between the two.

Thomas Coleman's parents were sharing a private after-hours moment in the Emily Dickinson House when Sam Pulsifer (accidentally) burned the house down and killed his parents in the bargain. He's currently working on getting an apology from Sam, and not getting that, wants revenge. He also wants Sam's wife, his children, his house: his life, in short. He is not writing a memoir.

After juggling many different projects for many years (including marriage and child raising), Anne Marie Pulsifer most recently worked on making her husband, Sam, tell the truth, and in getting what she thinks is the truth, she wants nothing more to do with him. She is not writing a memoir.

Wesley Mincher is a professor of literature at Heiden College and is engaged to be married to fellow professor of literature Lees Ardor. He wants Sam to burn down the Mark Twain House because Professor Ardor wants to feel like a real person and not like a character in Twain's novels and also because Professor Ardor believes Twain to be something of a female pudendum. Although he is the author of several well-respected critical studies, Professor Mincher is not writing a memoir and will not read one either, unless it happens to be set in the South or written by a Southerner.

Morgan Taylor, the leader of the five bond analysts who were Sam's fellow ex-cons and jailhouse memoir-writing-group members, wants Sam to teach him how to burn down writers' homes in New England so that he can write a memoir about it, and not getting that, wants revenge. He has already published one memoir based on experiences that were not his own.

Elizabeth Pulsifer is a high school English teacher. Her son, Sam, has recently moved home despite her having kicked him out (for good, she thought) ten years ago. Her husband, Bradley, appears to have had a stroke. It is no surprise that she drinks too much and that she disappears from her home for hours and hours at a time. No one knows where she goes, and she prefers it that way. She is not writing a memoir, because she has given up on books entirely.

Detective Robert Wilson is an arson investigator. His current project is to get Sam to admit to burning down a number of writers' homes in New England, and not getting what he wants, wants it even more. He is not writing a memoir.