Okay, so I finished An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England last night, or the night before, I don’t know. Either way, I finished the review this afternoon (nine minutes ago) – coming soon to a publication near you. The burning (!) question, of course, is: does a book with such a great title (and the cover! the flaming woman! you want to hug the book) deliver the goods?
It does, mostly. I think there’s a lot to be said for a book that can balance humor, literary commentary, and a plot that actually does keep you (well, me) guessing. In the review I said that it does meet the expectations; given a word limitation, which I always should be (and time usually constrains me) it’s hard to break down how a book did/did not meet expectations, where those expectations come from personally, how something that works as it was intended to work (at least how I interpret it as being intended to work) may be successful in that sense, but not fit the overall picture so well.
Which probably comes across as a lot of blah blah blah, but when you read the review maybe it will make more sense – ? There’s just a few certain scenes and elements to the book that felt shoehorned in. First and foremost in that category: the "Coleslaw" scene, toward the end – what? (I know, this only makes sense if you’ve read the book. Which you might as well, since you could do so much worse.) It seems like one of those scenes that, in the movie version, would be cut out – if you saw the movie version first, and then went back and read the book, it’d have this additional bit, and you’d probably say "the book is always better than the movie" and congratulate yourself on being a smarty – except in this case, you’d be better off with the film version. Like with Wonder Boys.
Overall, though, great stuff. Consider the goods to have been delivered to their destination. Between this and the similar "What is the Cure for Meanness?", Brock Clarke’s on my list of authors to follow.