AN ARSONIST'S GUIDE + VISUAL AIDS!

Hi Writers,
As I wrote a few posts ago (see “the memoirizer” post below), I just had the opportunity to interview writer and fellow Cincinnatian Brock Clarke about his new novel An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England.

This novel is such a delightful skewering of the literary world, I think it’s a book you writers would enjoy and quite possibly relate to.

Here’s one of my favorite excerpts from An Arsonist’s Guide:

I took my leave of the women (mostly) and the cafe and began wandering through the bookstore proper, making my way to the memoir section. I didn’t take too long. The memoir section, it turned out, was the biggest section by far in the whole bookstore and was, in its own way, like the Soviet Union of literature, having mostly gobbled up the smaller, obsolete states of fiction and poetry. On the way there, I passed through the fiction section. I felt sorry for it immediately: it was so small, so neglected and poorly shelved, and I nearly bought a novel out of pity, but the only thing that caught my eye was something titled The Ordinary White Boy. I plucked it off the shelf. After all, I’d been an ordinary white boy once, before the killing and burning, and maybe I could be one again someday, and maybe this book could help me do it, even if it was a novel and not useful, generically speaking. On the back it said that the author was a newspaper reporter from upstate New York. I opened the novel, which began, “I was working as a newspaper reporter in upstate New York,” and then I closed the book and put it back on the fiction shelf, which maybe wasn’t all that different from the memoir shelf after all, and I decided never again to feel sorry for the fiction section, the way you stopped feeling sorry for Lithuania once it rolled over so easily and started speaking Russian so soon after being annexed.

Interesting meta-fiction aside: The Ordinary White Boy is Brock’s first novel. You have to respect a writer who makes fun of his first novel in his second novel.

Anyway, in the spirit of being a good bloggess, I’m attempting to bring you more relevant visual aids, which are not easy to come by when you’re writing about writers, let me tell you.

Brock did a photo shoot for us yesterday and here’s a picture of Brock and me, taken right after I talked him into my convoluted scheme of shooting him on the front porch of a fenced in burned-out-shell of a house with a “No Trespassing” sign prominently displayed.

Just for your own safety, you might want to make a mental note of this in case I ever interview you. Thanks for being such a good sport Brock (and thanks to Lisa Wurster for the lovely photos).

Keep Writing,
Maria 

 
 

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5 thoughts on “AN ARSONIST'S GUIDE + VISUAL AIDS!

  1. kerry wood

    Michael said all the things I was going to say. Loved the post and will read both of Brock’s novels. When I was at work on my memoir, my brother kept saying things like "Remember that we’re just a couple of ordinary white kids who never fought any wars or did anything noteworthy enough to be written about."

  2. Michael

    I never looked at Ordinary White Boy, because I am one. I don’t know if I would have picked up Brock’s latest book before I read this post.

    However, lines such as: "like the Soviet Union of literature", "you stopped feeling sorry for Lithuania once it rolled over so easily and started speaking Russian so soon after being annexed" and "I’d been an ordinary white boy once, before the killing and burning, and maybe I could be one again someday" are too good to pass up. I have to check it out on my next trip to the bookstore.

    And, if those lines weren’t enough to tease me into a look, "This novel is such a delightful skewering of the literary world" sealed the deal. 🙂

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