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

  • by Brock Clarke
  • Narrated by Daneil Passer
  • 10 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

As a teenager, it was never Sam Pulsifer's intention to torch an American landmark, and he certainly never planned to kill two people in the blaze. To this day, he still wonders why that young couple was upstairs in bed in the Emily Dickinson House after hours. After serving 10 years in prison for his crime, Sam is determined to put the past behind him. He finishes college, begins a career, falls in love, gets married, has two adorable kids, and buys a home. His low-profile life is chugging along quite nicely until the past comes crashing through his front door.
As the homes of Robert Frost, Edith Wharton, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and even a replica of Henry David Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond, go up in smoke, Sam becomes the number-one suspect. Finding the real culprit is the only way to clear his name. But sometimes there's a terrible price to pay for the truth.
An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England is a tour de force: a novel disguised as a memoir, a mystery that cloaks itself in humor, and an artful piece of literature that bites the hand that breeds it.


What the Critics Say

"A serious novel that is often very funny and will be a page-turning pleasure for anyone who loves literature." (Kirkus Reviews)
"[A] delightfully dark story....Sam is equal parts fall guy and tour guide in this bighearted and wily jolt to the American literary legacy." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A downer of a book

I had read a great review of this book and was thrilled to have found it on audible. However once I started listening I found it was very slow, plodding and exhausting to listen to. At first I decided that the reader's dead pan style was ruining what at times could have been a sarcastically funny narrative. So--I kept at it and finished the whole thing. While the book had an occasional interesting insight -- the "good" parts never materialized and over all it was depressing. Even when the reader perked up a bit it was still deadly. It focused on betrayal of those we love, our families, spouses, friends and most of all ourselves. It presented such as nasty, hateful view of life that I am very sorry I lasted through the whole reading. It lacked any kind of redemption and left a really dark cloud hanging over the heads of the reader, the listener, and the poor characters portrayed. I hope I've learned not to be such a compulsive "finisher" of things I've started. I would have been better off walking away from this one.
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- Sara

Felt like burning the book.

The main character was unappealingly flat and almost autistic in nature. He seems such a literalist (Asperger's Syndrome, perhaps?) - so one dimensional - that I found his character difficult to relate to. That's not to say autistic characters can't work as the main voice in a story. The Dog Who Barked in the Night is a splendid example of this. I really kept trying to like this book, as the story line was so original and quirky, but getting through it was a chore for me. Can't recommend this one.
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- sally r.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-15-2007
  • Publisher: Random House Audio