Jeff Jensen
September 07, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

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

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Brock Clarke
publisher
Algonquin Books
genre
Comic Novels, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an A-

One little mistake, and Pffft — your life goes up in smoke. Ten years after Sam Pulsifier accidentally burns down Emily Dickinson’s childhood home, he becomes Suspect No. 1 when other scribes’ homes get flamed. Who’s really to blame? This absurdly hilarious mystery, An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England about a bumbler’s guilt-consumed life skewers the whole memoir thing and offers a fact/fiction-blurring meditation on the risky business of self-deception: ”Sometimes the lies you tell are less frightening than the loneliness you might feel if you stopped telling them.” A killer line in Brock Clarke’s searingly funny book. A-

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