Review: An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England

Apparently my long drought at PopMatters was the result of technical glitches at both ends.  So, there’ll probably be several reviews there in relatively quick succession.  The first is Brock Clarke’s An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England:

Sam’s got a lot of time to think about relationships and their discontents, and so he loads up his narratives with twee aphorisms about human nature: “Why do we hurt our parents the way we do?  There’s no way to make sense of it except as practice for then hurting our children the way we do.” Or: “maybe misunderstanding is what makes it possible to be a family in the first place.” Or, best of all: “we all know that to be a son is to lie to yourself about your father.” Clarke’s humor at these moments is somehow both delicate and complex.  There’s straight satire of the memoirist’s impulse to tell us what life is, of course.  More than this, any time Sam promulgates one of these aphorisms, it’s a sign he’s misconstrued the situation—the “insight” is just a screen for Sam’s delusions. They’re never earned insights.

Read the whole thing!

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