Welcome to the strange, wonderful world of Brock Clarke. Nestled in-between the green mountains of the Adirondacks and hazardous fiberglass plants, this amusement park of stories will never cease to amaze you. Here, you will meet lower-middle class, middle-aged Americans who "are growing old, but not gracefully, wearing baseball hats and jeans slung low and desperately faking youth" and their teenagers, so restless and bored that they waste their youth away drinking Utica beer and accidentally setting fires all over town. Here, florists, dental hygienists, high school teachers, and peddlers of porno novelty items alike are all caught somewhere between the idealism of Epcot Center and the realities of Little Falls, NY. They are trying to be normal, good people at all costs and are, again and again, failing miserably. In the title story, "What We Won't Do," false accusations made by an unemployed man toward his doctor acquaintance "turns an innocent barbecue . . . into something you'd see in a professional wrestling steel cage match." The similarly ridiculous and tragic "Starving" features a group of fathers who decide to literally starve themselves to death rather than watch their sons' self destructive and self-pitying midlife crisis, and in "Specify the Learners," a man quits his factory job, gets divorced, and, attributing everything to the fact that he failed sixth grade back in 1977, goes back to junior high. Reaffirming that "life, at its core, is embarrassing," What We Won't Do is a collection of tales about the miseries of the average, blue-collar worker who is anything but average. Compassionate and humorous, these stories portray the Homer Simpsons and Archie Bunkers of the world, Knut Hamsun style. Clarke's understanding of all of our "accidental evil, rank insecurity, and plain human weakness" is more than insightful; it's downright funny.
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Used availability for Brock Clarke's What We Won't Do
February 2002 : USA Paperback