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

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


Dear Mr. Pulsifer,

It is likely I need no introduction. I know from your destruction of the Emily Dickinson House that you are a literary man, and so no doubt you've heard of, and perhaps read, my most recent monograph, That Dog Won't Hunt: The Resistance to Change in Southern Literature, which received quite a few kind notices in many significant regional and national periodicals. Indeed, I lectured from the book at the fine state university in your hometown in the not so distant past. Perhaps you were in the audience, which was overflowing, although it should be admitted that the room was very small. But then again, perhaps you weren't there: it occurs to me you might have been already incarcerated by then.

But no matter. I am here not as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in Southern Literary Studies from the Society for the Preservation of Southern Literary Studies, but as one who wishes to contract your services. And so let me come to the point. I would like you to do unto the Mark Twain House as you did unto the Emily Dickinson House: I would like you to burn it to the ground, as your Sherman did to our Atlanta, as our Bobby Lee would have done to your Boston, your New York, had he had the troops, the ordnance. I will, of course, pay you for your efforts. Whatever you wish to charge, I will pay. Because this is not for me: this is a present for my colleague and ladylove, Professor Lees Ardor. Professor Ardor believes Mr. Twain to be something of a female pudenda and wants his house destroyed because of it. You may not agree with her; neither do I. But that is not the point. That point is that a man must do what his ladylove wishes him to do. This was one of Mr. Faulkner's Eternal Verities, or would have been had he lived long enough to complete his list of them.

I look forward to your response.


Wesley Mincher
Class of 1934 Professor of American Literature
Department of English
Heiden College
Hartford, Connecticut

return to main letters page