Brock Clarke’s superb stories—exemplars of tragicomic voice and escalation—move ever forward on the tracks of his characters’ rigorous but self-delusional logic. What a pleasure it is to read an artist who is in such complete control of talent and technique. —Chris Bachelor, author of The Throwback Special
From the publisher: Each of Clarke’s stories offers a complete submersion into a whimsically distorted world: In “The Pity Palace,” a lonely man in Florence, Italy tries to win back his wife—who may or may not exist—from the novelist Mario Puzo —who may or may not still be alive. In “Concerning Lizzie Borden, Her Axe, My Wife,” a husband and wife try to get beyond a marital speed bump and decide to spend a night in the bed and breakfast that was once the home of infamous axe-murderer Lizzie Borden. In “Children Who Divorce,” the child actors from the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory re-create their roles in a dinner theater sequel, but despite having grown older, they have never actually grown up.
The title story, which takes place after a black teenager is shot by a white policeman, delivers a sharp and biting dissection of racial attitudes in contemporary America. “I moved to Cincinnati in June 2001, two months after an unarmed nineteen-year-old black man named Timothy Thomas was shot and killed by a white city policeman named Stephen Roach,” explains Clarke. “This was a familiar story then, and it’s a familiar story now . . .”
Brock Clarke, recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature in 2008 and the winner of a Pushcart Prize for fiction in 2009, is the author of two previous story collections and four novels, most recently The Happiest People in the World and Exley, which was named a Kirkus Book of the Year. He currently lives in Portland, Maine, and teaches creative writing at Bowdoin College.
The Price of the Haircut can be purchased directly from the publisher, Algonquin Books.
So much happens in these intensely lyrical poems, accompanied by such subtle music and profound, often witty, meditations on love, loneliness, rapture and mortality. This is a beautiful book, one that asks us to see the everyday world anew, and discover in it marvelous strangeness. —Kevin Prufer
From the publisher: Ranging from love song to train song to jump rope rhyme, the poems of Sometimes We’re All Living in a Foreign Country are voiced by perpetual outsiders searching for a sense of place from small Southern towns to the tunnels and tracks of the urban North. Personal and regional histories blur through the intimate paths of tornadoes, guns, suburban sprawl, and the ongoing quest to escape where we come from.
Rebecca Morgan Frank is the author of The Spokes of Venus and Little Murders Everywhere, a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She is cofounder and editor of the online literary magazine Memorious.
Sometimes We’re All Living in a Foreign Country can be purchased directly from the publisher, Carnegie Mellon University Press.