The Ordinary White Boy
By Brock Clarke
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151008100, 272pp.)
Publication Date: September 1, 2001
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Endearing, infuriating, and utterly irresistible, Lamar Kerry is a twenty-seven-year-old Ordinary White Boy. He wears khaki pants, work boots, and flannel shirts; dances like Mick Jagger when he dances at all (only when drunk); and when in doubt, he reaches for a beer. His father sent him to college expecting him to become extraordinary, but Lamar returned home a bright, cocky, over-educated, middle-class boy adrift in a depressed, comatose, working-class town.
Now the town's only Hispanic is missing and feared dead, Lamar's mother is enfeebled by MS, and both his girlfriend and his father are tired of being disappointed in him. Can Lamar turn himself into a professor of "racist remediation" and save the soul of his town? Can he stop hiding out in his ordinariness and do what is right by his father, his mother, his girlfriend, and himself? Can this ordinary white boy finally become a man?
With a character both unforgettably unique yet universal, in a voice both tender and biting, Clarke mixes subtle social criticism with laugh-out-loud funny observations and introduces to literature the ordinary white boy in all of us.
Brock Clarke received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Rochester and is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Cincinnati. His books have been widely reviewed and his short-story collection What We Won't Do won the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction. He lives with his wife and son in Cincinnati, Ohio.