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Incendiary Author to Speak at NHTI

Arsonists Guide coverNHTI Campus Reads author Brock Clarke will leave the matches at home but bring his trademark sense of humor when he speaks about his book, The Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England, at NHTI on Tuesday, Nov. 4.  Algonquin Press has confirmed Clarke's campus appearance on that afternoon, from 12-2 p.m., the same date on which Clarke's newest novel, The Happiest People on Earth, will be released.

Clarke is a renowned author and faculty member at Bowdoin College in Maine.  His visit will be a highlight of a series of the fall Campus Reads events, including a bonfire at the NHTI boat launch,  a series of writing-related contests that students can enter, and a book discussion in the Bistro.

The student editors of The Eye, NHTI's student literary journal, chose Clarke's Arsonist's Guide, as the fall Campus Reads title for its humor, literary quality, local flavor, and the likeability of its bumbling, troubled narrator.  The novel is narrated by Sam Pulsifer, whose intention was not to destroy a New England landmark or murder two people in the blaze when he burned down Emily Dickinson's home. However, after serving 19 years in prison, finishing college, and starting a career and a family, he finds himself still desperately struggling to put his past behind him.  It becomes a monumental task when the New England 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.  Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe's side-by-side homes could be in danger, too.  Pulsifer, a prime suspect, knows that he has to find the arsonist and make peace with his past to clear his name.

Critics point out that this novel-as-memoir has a lot to say about New England and New Hampshire and the people who live here, while exploring deeper truths about why people write and the struggle to find one's authentic voice.

NHTI Campus Reads events, sponsored by The Eye, include the following:

  • Thursday, Oct. 2, 6-8 p.m.: Campus-wide bonfire at the boat launch with cider, cocoa, and cookies served.
  • Friday, Oct. 10: Deadline for students to submit a favorite Emily Dickinson poem to win a prize.
  • Friday, Oct. 17: Deadline for students to submit a favorite Robert Frost poem to win a prize.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 4: Author Brock Clark will speak about writing about arsonists, happiness, and more! (Location to be determined.)
  • Friday, Nov. 7: Students can submit their best original "write alike" poem in the style of Dickinson or Frost to win a prize.
  • Friday, Nov. 14: In honor of The Eye's 25th anniversary, students can list their top 25 things to read (books, websites, magazines, specific titles, etc.) to win a prize.


Aug 29, 2014

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Book Club Notes

Campus Readers met after Wednesday’s faculty breakfast to discuss their latest book choice, Brock Clarke’s The Arsonists Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, this semester’s Campus Reads selection, suggested by the EYE editors.  Paula Delbonis-Platt, Susan Dunton, Cathy Eaton, Jane Hunt, Alan Lindsay, Kristina Lucas, Perry Seagroves, and Christopher Small compared notes on their individual readings, preparing for Brooke Clark’s arrival on campus November 4th. Several book club members were taken aback by the bumbling nature of the protagonist, hoping he could, would somehow get his act together.  Meanwhile, our group worked toward avoiding sounding like the description of book club members that Clarke makes hilarious.

The campus community is invited to attend our next Campus Readers meeting at noon following the January semester’s faculty breakfast when we discuss this year’s Concord Reads selection The Last Policeman by Ben Winters.  According to the Concord Reads committee, “The book is an exploration of human nature and society at its best and worst, and a detective story."  Contact Alan Lindsay with questions.