Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England
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Sam Pulsifer has come to the end of a very long and unusual journey. 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 aged twenty-eight and set about creating a new life 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 guilty. 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. "An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England" is a novel disguised as a memoir; a deeply affecting story about truth and honesty and the damage they do.
anymore, either. It felt as though bumbling was a disease for which we’d found a cure. “You’re welcome,” I said. “You finally told the truth,” he said. “I really did.” “Doesn’t it feel better to tell the truth?” Detective Wilson asked, but then he yanked my hands behind my back and cuffed them before I could decide whether it felt better or not. 27 So here I am again, in prison, a medium-security one this time. This time I’m not locked up with white-collar criminals, and not really
It’s a painful thing, finding out that you’re dumber than someone else. But then again, there is always someone smarter than you; you’d think we’d die from the constant pain of our mental inferiority, except that most of the time we’re too stupid to feel it. Yes, Thomas Coleman was smarter than I was, I knew it, and now my wife knew it, too. “That’s what I thought,” Anne Marie said again. “He also said that you’d say the whole thing with his wife was an accident, that you’d never meant for it to
there were people in the world more desperate, more self-absorbed, more boring than I was. And then I found the memoir I was looking for, without even knowing that I was looking for it or that it even existed: A Guide to Who I Am and Who I Pretended to Be, written by Morgan Taylor, one of the bond analysts. Except according to the book he was now an ex- bond analyst. That was the first thing I found out about his life after prison (I sat right down on the floor and started reading the book, as
sad that was, that my father—and maybe all of us—was more impressive asleep than awake. In any case, I located the end table in the mostly dark, opened the drawer as quietly as I could, and removed the shoe box from the drawer and then myself from the room. I walked to the kitchen; there was a half pot of coffee from the day before, and so I heated and drank it while I flipped through the letters. They weren’t in any particular order—Wharton was before Alcott, who was after Melville—but finally
after my parents died,” he said. “She wanted to say how sorry she was. She’s the only one in your family to say that. I used to come around and see her in her apartment once in a while, but I had a feeling she didn’t want me there.” “Why?” “I don’t think she likes me very much,” Thomas admitted. I knew why: my mother probably pitied Thomas too much to like him. I remembered there were books she wouldn’t read, and wouldn’t let me read, because they were so full of pity. For my eighth-grade