Sam Pulsifer is eighteen when he accidentally burns down the Emily Dickenson House in Amherst, Massachusetts. Two people perish in the fire and Sam is sentenced to ten years in prison. When Sam gets out he heads home, but after vandalism by angry neighbors, Sam's parents suggest he go off to college. He does, meets Anne Marie, gets married and has two children. He never tells Anne Marie about burning down the house or his time in prison. He tells her his parents were killed in a fire. But then the son of the couple that perished shows up and threatens Sam's new life. Sam ends up back at his parents house when Anne Marie throws him out. But then other famous dead authors' homes start getting torched and Sam is the prime suspect and he sets out to clear his name.
my review: I have had this book on my shelf for almost a year. I don't know why it just sat there and I'm not even sure why I puled it off the shelf. But I am so happy I did! This was a dark comedy of a novel but also a mystery and a bit of a coming of age story. Sam is the narrator of his story and he is naive and big-hearted. It is almost like reading a book with a child protagonist. He is funny as he tries to play detective. He was never allowed by his English teacher mother to read them growing up, so that is why he makes so many mistakes in his investigation. Sam looks for answers about his family and himself everywhere. He even tries the bookstore.
This was an unusual, imaginative book and I really can't begin to do justice to it with a review. But it was smart, funny, touching, and addictive. I read it in two sittings. I just really suggest you read it and see for yourself.There were several memoirs about the difficulty of writing memoirs, and even a handful of how-to-write-a-memoir memoirs: A Memoirist's Guide to Writing Your Memoirs and the like. All of this made me feel better about myself, and I was grateful to the books for teaching me-without my even having to read them- that there were people in the world more desperate, more self-absorbed, more boring than I was.
recommend yes, yes, yes!!
This book counts towards the What's In a Name Challenge 3
- Paperback: 317 pages
- Publisher: Algonquin Books; Reprint edition
- Date: September 2, 2008