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Brock Clarke has visited a few writers’ houses in his day and has consistently walked out of them dejected. I mean, what are we supposed to learn by seeing the very pot where Mark Twain peed? So Clarke decided to burn them all down, or at least a fair amount of them, metaphorically of course. An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England is a novel in the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut, which is to say it’s bizarre, human, funny, and sick. The narrator, Sam Pulsifer—-who accidentally burned down Emily Dickinson’s house and killed two people having a tryst inside—-comes off as a guy you want to hate and can’t. But Arsonist’s Guide is more than a character study of a complicated dude. It’s also, eventually, a mystery. Someone else is torching writers’ houses, suspiciously in the tradition of poor Sam, and unless he finds out who it is, he’ll remain suspect. The solution to this mystery isn’t the reason to keep turning pages. Clarke’s dark style is. For a guy who hates writers’ houses, he sure can write. Clarke discusses and signs copies of his work at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1307 19th St. NW. Free. (202) 785-1133. —-Jule Gardner