- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
David BowmanAn Arsonist's Guide begins with an epigraph from Muriel Spark that seems to be used to imply that this novel, too, is autobiographical. The book's first chapter began as a short story published seven years ago in The New England Review; at the end of that version, the narrator promised never again to tell the arsonist's story of Emily Dickinson's house. It is to comic fiction's advantage that Clarke reneged. An Arsonist's Guide contains sentences and images that could stand beside the works of the former owners of the literary residences put to flame. There is a single sentence of dialogue (unprintable here) that will paralyze any Willa Cather scholar. There is a lone paragraph describing a woman's head aflame—"Then she pulled out a lighter," part of it reads, "flicked it, and grabbed a clump of her hair"—that could compel Stephen King to increase the fire insurance on his own New England house.
—The New York Times Book Review