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Download An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England: A Novel Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample An Arsonists Guide to Writers Homes in New England: A Novel Audiobook, by Brock Clarke Click for printable size audiobook cover
2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 2.00 (4,043 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Brock Clarke Narrator: Daniel Passer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2007 ISBN: 9780739357880
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Sam Pulsifer, the hapless hero of this incendiary novel, has come to the end of a very long and unusual journey, and for the second time in his life he has the time to think about all the things that have and have not come to pass.

The truth is, a lot of remarkable things have happened in Sam’s life. He spent ten years in prison for accidentally burning down poet Emily Dickinson’s house—and unwittingly killing two people in the process. He emerged at age twenty-eight and set about creating a new life—almost a new identity—for himself. He went to college, found love, got married, fathered two children, and made a new start—and then watched in almost-silent awe as the vengeful past caught up with him, right at his own front door.

As, one by one, the homes of other famous New England writers are torched, Sam knows that this time he is most certainly not the guilty one. To prove his innocence, he sets out to uncover the identity of this literary-minded arsonist. What he discovers, and how he deals with the reality of his discoveries, is both hilariously funny and heartbreakingly sad. For, as Sam learns, the truth has a way of eluding capture, and then, when you finally get close enough to embrace it, it turns and kicks you in the ass.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A 2008 ALA Notable Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laurel | 2/18/2014

    " I was excited when I saw this on the shelf at my small neighborhood library, excited by its quirkiness when I first started reading and then about half way through I....argh...started to skim a bit (part of that might have been my needing to consume Theraflu while reading). Sam became irritating...I just wanted him to get on with it already. Too many characters being stereotypic and weird for the sake of weird characters...was that the point? What am I missing? Am I unclever? And then the ending...wow didn't see any of that which I don't want to spoil coming. Maybe 2 stars. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Di West | 2/17/2014

    " Could not finish this book. It was bleak. And sad. Rather like "Little Miss Sunshine," which I also heard was supposed to be funny. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Edmond Yomtoob | 2/14/2014

    " I read this a while ago, but walked past a book store the other day, saw it in the window and remembered how much I enjoyed it. A really clever story about a clueless aspergersy type. Lots of literary refernces (a lot of which I didnt get) and comments about people who love books. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joanna | 2/8/2014

    " It's certainly funny, but more in a "Oh, that was funny" way. Many other reviewers found the protagonist unlikeable, but I found him sympathetic. His actions and choices are frustrating, but I think they're so frustrating because we want him to succeed. Ultimately, the ending left me unsatisfied and at a bit of a loss. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nicholas | 2/1/2014

    " Not what I expected. Expected it to be more of comedy and satire, but there was a resigned tone in the narration from the very beginning, which detracted from both of those features. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Roy | 2/1/2014

    " A breezy read full of observations about the human condition that seem almost wise had they been made by a child, but since the story is told from the viewpont of an adult they come off mostly as whimsical, quirky and border line idiotic, terms that aptly describe just about every character in this novel as well as its cutely odd plot. If you like a heavy dose of absurdity mixed into your mysteries, and plenty of literary references tossed in for good measue, this is the book for you. If I was the type, this would probably qualify as a single sitting read. Mild curiosity and amusement along with a dash of irritation at the narrator's inability to solve relatively simple problems in blatantly simple ways (because he is by definition a bumbler, and the author insists he must live up to this description no matter what) propels the reader forward to an ending that is not intended to take anyone by surprise, but manages to be somewhat poignant if not quite profound. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jacob | 1/30/2014

    " This book wins the prize for the most frustrating protagonist in the history of literature. It's hard not to dock the author for this. I think the writing is generally crisp and insightful, although he sometimes tries too hard. But, to be honest, the book really bummed me out. So 3* it is. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carolyn Crocker | 1/28/2014

    " A quirky meditation on the power of books and writing-- for good or ill--from the perspective of a most unreliable narrator! Part of our Big Read celebration of Emily Dickinson. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Andrea LeClair | 1/17/2014

    " I gave up on this one. The narrator was so completely out of touch with his emotions that it was getting in the way of the narrative. I couldn't care about him, and his passivity stopped me from even caring about the resolution to the story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Suzanne | 1/1/2014

    " I'm not really sure what to make of this book. I'd like to read it in a book club becasue I feel like I'm missing the point as well as symbology. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jocelyn | 12/20/2013

    " I picked this book up when I saw it mentioned in "Blueprint" magazine. It's a really witty book and well written, but I'm not so sure I like the ending. It's kind of a dark comedy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elin | 12/16/2013

    " Very cleverly written, but I didn't like any of the characters, and it was very frustrating to read, as it was full of unfortunate people making bad decisions making their lives worse. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suraj | 9/21/2013

    " A fantastic book written in first person. Funny, enchanting and sad (at times). "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Auk | 12/11/2012

    " i could not get through this book, even when i was stuck on a plane with nothing else to read. not entertaining. drivel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren S. | 11/26/2012

    " A really good read, but the main character is so frustrating!!! I just want to shake him! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carolyn | 4/6/2012

    " It is a good book by a good writer but it is tonally annoying. This was not a narrator a reader could long enjoy. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Meri | 3/30/2012

    " Didn't realize it was so satirical; hard to read more than a chapter at a time, but I have laughed out loud once or twice so it evens out. Wry tone, great protagonist. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathie | 1/16/2012

    " quirky, sometimes funny and sometimes sad "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bill Laine | 12/2/2011

    " Its beem a few weeks since I finished this. I remember I liked it. It was a pleasant read. Some laughs, some food for thought. But I don't remember much more. I guess that's my statement about the book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Geri | 11/26/2011

    " An odd book with a mildly interesting story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ms. Thenn | 6/23/2011

    " Didn't quite live up to my expectations. It was an okay read but glad it was in the bargain bin. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ben | 6/15/2011

    " A much better listen than read. Amazing reader. Did a better job than my imagination did. When I think of the book, I think of the voice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 F Clark | 6/7/2011

    " It took me a while to warm up (so to speak) the narrator's voice, but once I understood his total unreliability, I began to enjoy it. The satire is sharp, and the passage on the memoir section in a big box bookstore is hilarious. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alison | 6/5/2011

    " Had much higher hopes, based on the blurbs and my local book store's recommendation. Repetitive writing style, somewhat predictable plot, no redeeming characters. Oh well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Therese | 6/5/2011

    " this started off on a promising note - i even recommended it to a book club. but somehow it fell apart about half-way through the book. i kept thinking it was going to turn around, but no such luck. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 5/16/2011

    " Some readers loved this book. Others loathed it. Just give the book a chance, okay? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 5/15/2011

    " Not sure I liked this book, I got really annoyed with the protagonist.
    Had to skim read it to the end, which ended predictably. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Martinxo | 5/14/2011

    " Tiresome. Gave up after page 43 or something. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Anne | 5/5/2011

    " Bought it because I liked the cover. Only part of the book I enjoyed. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stacey | 5/4/2011

    " Kind of boring, put it down for a couple of weeks and picked it back up when I ran out of other things to read. No likable characters, and a ridiculous occurrence of events. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Beverly | 5/2/2011

    " I did not finish this book but abandoned it. After about a third (an honest try, I'd say), I found it too insipid to continue. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dawn | 5/1/2011

    " I loved the narrarator's voice.
    I loved the idea.
    It's just that the actual book wasn't as good as I wanted it to be.
    I'll be willing to try something else written by this author, but that will be it if he lets me down again.

    Oh, and I hated the ending. "

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About the Author

Brock Clarke is the author of An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, which was a national bestseller and has appeared in a dozen foreign editions, as well as several other books. He lives in Portland, Maine, and teaches creative writing at Bowdoin College.