Title: An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England
Author: Brock Clarke
Length: 303 pages
Genre: literary fiction/faux memoir
Plot Basics: Sam Pulsifer accidentally burnt down the Emily Dickinson Home and killed two people in the process. Now, out of prison, Sam is trying to live a normal life. But his past -- which he has worked hard to keep buried -- is inescapable, as is his fate of being known as the guy who burns down writers' homes. As fires are set at the Edward Bellamy house, Mark Twain house and the residences of other New England literary greats, Sam decides to play detective and learns more truths about his life and family than about how to set fires.
Banter Points: It's only January, true, but this book is bound to make Word Nerd's top ten best books list for 2008. Achingly wonderful and compelling with touches of bitter comedy, "Arsonist's Guide" is a masterpiece. The "faux memoir novel" may be an up-and-coming genre but Clarke is one of the early masters. This novel blazes with promise for his career.
Bummer Points: Clarke only has one other novel published. Too bad, because Word Nerd would love to read a very lengthy backlist from him.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Pay attention to this book and this writer. Both are phenomenal.