Arsonist's Guide author visits Buffalo

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The Spectrum

It turns out that good things can happen in the basement of a church.

Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, located in the basement of the former Asbury Delaware Methodist Church, hosted author Brock Clarke Monday night in collaboration with UB's English department and Talking Leaves bookstore.

Clarke, known for his 2007 novel An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England, presented his works as part of the Exhibit X Fiction Series. Clarke has also published one other novel, The Ordinary White Boy, and several short stories, in addition to teaching creative writing at the University of Cincinnati.

Since 2003, Exhibit X has presented the city of Buffalo and UB students with a personal look into the world of innovative and experimental fiction. Assistant English professors Christina Milletti and Dimitri Anastasopoulos are the series' curators.

"We started in order to showcase UB's interest in innovative and avant-garde fiction, and there is a very interesting list of writers that have been nurtured here," Milletti said. "The idea was to bring those writers back to Buffalo and give them a platform to showcase the experiments they've been working on."

Clarke read several interesting excerpts from his new book in a surprisingly self-deprecating manner. At one point, Clarke showed that the editing process is never over by crossing out three words in his already-printed novel.

"I really enjoyed it," said Xicong Tracy Chen, a sophomore pharmacology and toxicology major. "The last one [featuring Davis Schneiderman] was more of a performance piece; this one was more about the literature. This one makes me want to buy the book."

However, Chen was slightly more hesitant to recommend the exhibit to students.

"I don't know," Chen said. "Some of this stuff is really experimental and may turn people off, but tonight's was a delight."

Milletti said that Exhibit X's original intent was to showcase authors, but the event also attempts to expose audiences to a wide range of literature.

Matthew Kotula, a senior English and history major, supports Exhibit X's mission.

"This is not only an exposure to contemporary literature, but it tends to be contemporary Buffalo literature," Kotula said. "[Exhibit X] is great for Buffalo culture."

The next Exhibit X event will take place on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. with Ted Pelton, author of Malcolm and Jack (and other Famous American Criminals). Dave Kress, author of Counting Zero, will present Mar. 7, and Jessica Anthony, author of The Convalescent, will read from her new book on Apr. 12.

All events are free and open to the public.

For more information, visit the Exhibit X website at wings.buffalo.edu/english/exhibitx/.

Email: features@ubspectrum.com