I, Sam Pulsifer, am the man who accidentally burned down the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, Massachusetts, and who in the process killed two people, for which I spent ten years in prison and, as letters from scholars of American literature tell me, for which I will continue to pay a high price long into the not-so-sweet hereafter. This story is locally well known, and so I won't go into it here. It's probably enough to say that in the Massachusetts Mt. Rushmore of big, gruesome tragedy, there are the Kennedys, and Lizzie Borden and her ax, and the burning witches at Salem, and then there's me.
– Brock Clarke, in the opening paragraph of An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. Clarke appears at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, at Wordsmiths Books (141 E. Trinity Place, Decatur; 404-378-7166).