This image is hidden for guests. Please login or register to see it.Just because an author can come up with a quirky, interesting title doesn't mean he can write a quirky, interesting book.
Case in point: "An Arsonist's Guide to Writer's Homes in New England," Brock Clarke's new story about Sam Pulsifer, a man who spends 10 years of his early life in prison for setting fire to the family home of Emily Dickinson, killing two people in the process.
Early press for the book said it was akin to John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces." Baloney. This story can't even stand in the shadow of that modern American classics. The book's main character is self-absorbed, dull and doesn't have a clue. He's not someone I'd want to know. Ever. The story doesn't have any punch, much less enough dark humor to move the plot along.
The author dispatches Sam's past life pretty quickly. He serves his sentence, goes to college, marries a gorgeous girl who doesn't seem to mind that he's as bland as white flour, has two children, gets a divorce and moves home with his folks in a hurry. His folks have some seriously heavy issues of their own, but I frankly didn't care what happened to them or Sam. Nothing funny or quirky here - just words filling page after endless page.