The Cincinnati literary scene suffered a blow when Brock Clarke recently moved to Portland, Maine, to take a job at Bowdoin College. Through his work as a writer (via two short-story collections and two novels, including 2007's hilarious and well-received An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England) and educator (he taught creative writing at UC, where he brought in such guest speakers/authors as Sam Lipsyte, Heidi Julavits and Jonathan Lethem), Clarke was a one-man literary juggernaut who produced, nurtured and promoted the written word with unwavering commitment and creativity.
Gone only a few months, it looks like he couldn't stay away: Clarke returns this week with a new novel under his arm. His just-published Exley (Algonquin) tells the surreal story of Miller La Ray, a young boy who, with his therapist's help, yearns to figure out why his father walked out on his family.
If the title rings familiar, it should: The book pays homage to one of Clarke's favorite authors, Frederick Exley, whose A Fan's Notes plays a role in Exley's narrative of shifting identities and secret affairs. Clarke explains it all (or at least some of it) at 7 p.m. Monday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (2692 Madison Road, Norwood).
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