An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England
By Brock Clarke
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Paperback, 9781565126145, 317pp.)
Publication Date: September 2008
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The truth is, a lot of remarkable things have happened in Sam's life. He spent ten years in prison for accidentally burning down poet Emily Dickinson's house--and unwittingly killing two people in the process. He emerged at age twenty-eight and set about creating a new life--almost a new identity--for himself. He went to college, found love, got married, fathered two children, and made a new start--and then watched in almost silent awe as the vengeful past caught up with him, right at his own front door.
As, one by one, the homes of other famous New England writers are torched, Sam knows that he is most certainly not the guilty one. To prove his innocence, he sets out to uncover the identity of this literary-minded arsonist. What he discovers, and how he deals with the reality of his discoveries, is both hilariously funny and heartbreakingly sad. For, as Sam learns, the truth has a way of eluding capture, and then, when you finally get close enough to embrace it, it turns and kicks you in the ass.
In the league of such contemporary classics as "A Confederacy of Dunces, Catch-22, Little Big Man", and "The World According to Garp", "An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England" is an original and exciting work - a novel disguised as a memoir; a mystery that cloaks itself in humor; an artful piece ofliterature that bites the hand that breeds it. A heartbreaking story about truth and honesty and the damage they do, it's above all a massive piece of entertainment that will make you think and make you care.