Reviews

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England, by Brock Clarke

myphairlady's review

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slow-paced

0.25

treenakravm's review against another edition

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2.0

I read this as part of a mini-challenge to read the lowest and highest rated book you own, and I really wanted to prove the reviews wrong. I bought this book thinking it would be a fantastic romp. Unfortunately, this one does deserve its lowest rank. While not the worst book I've ever read, I genuinely think I got nothing out of it. It was bland, odd since so much happens.

I read a lot of reviews that said they didn't enjoy it because our protagonist, Sam, was very unlikeable. And I thought to myself, "Hey! I love unlikeable narrators/characters, surely I'll enjoy it more!" And now I realize that I enjoy characters who are horrible people, while Sam is truly just unlikeable. His bland internal monologue and poor decisions are enough to not like him, but not enough to hate him either. I suppose that's some sort of metaphor about how most people actually are, but it didn't come together well enough for that to work very well.

christina_sirotich's review

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lighthearted mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

thevioletfoxbookshop's review

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I wanted to like this book. The premise was intriguing and had great potential, but the writing was killing me. The book is very verbose and long-winded. We get off on tangents yet breeze over what seem to be important points. The main character is a sociopath and because his thoughts dont make sense to the reader, ultimately the book makes no sense.

hogwash1's review against another edition

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1.0

The worst book I read this year, maybe last year too, and the year before that. Every single sentence needs to be rewritten -- though why bother? Books this bad should be illegal.

ruthiella's review against another edition

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1.0

I found this book to be very disappointing. 300 pages of dreck such as,

“I wanted her to look beautiful and maybe that is what all children want: for their parents to look beautiful. And in order for them to look beautiful, you have to find ways to ignore their ugliness. It is easier to be ugly yourself than to admit to the ugliness of the people who made you; it is easier to love the people who made you if you are ugly and they are not. And it is easier to live on this earth if you love the people who made you, even if that means risking the love of the people you yourself have made. Even if.”

WTF? Not only was the story dull and unfunny, other than the names of a few authors and Aunt Polly from Tom Sawyer, there are virtually no real literary references in this book. And I might add, there are no real arsonists either. In fact, I don’t think the author even likes books. I am not sure how he feels about arsonists. The back flap compares of the book it to "A Confederacy of Dunces" and "Catch 22", neither of which I much liked. I guess it is supposed to be a farce. Maybe I just don’t get farcical humor?

miss_tricia's review against another edition

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3.0

The writing in this book is crazy good times. Every paragraph contains some peculiar turn of phrase or witty metaphor or blatantly unveiled foreshadowing. I probably read at least one thing aloud to my husband on every page (a sure sign that I though it was clever). I'm also recommending this for everyone who has been thinking about the distinction between a memoir and a novel, as there's a lovely discussion of that very topic. I'll probably never read this again, but it's definitely worth one read, so I'd give it an extra half-star if I could.

dilan11's review against another edition

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3.0

At first, it was funny and the tone of the narrator was interesting but then about 100 pages in I thought it might have been better as a short story. It was hard to stick with this narrator for a whole book.
In some ways just too gimmicky and meta, it is a book about writing a book, reading books, about the whole memoir trend.
I gave it three stars because I think that Brock Clarke can write. I just don't think what he writes has much value. Really what is a reader to do with this much unmitigated tragedy.

chloemakesbooks's review against another edition

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1.0

couldn't stand it. Like catcher in the rye, except older and even more whiny. get over yourself! you're not funny!

rothcoe's review against another edition

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2.0

Am I an asshole for not reading this all the way through and just skipping to the end? Probably. Should I be rating this? Probably not. This is a book I really wanted to like, but I just didn't have the patience for, but I wanted to know how it ended, but when I read the end I was kind of "Meh".