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Brock Clarke
Brock Clarke is the author of What We Won't Do (Sarabande Books, 2002), and the 2000 winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, selected by Mark Richard. He was also recently awarded a Walter Dakin Fellowship at the 2002 Sewanee Writers Conference and named a fellow at the Wesleyan Writers Conference.He is from upstate New York. He received his Ph.D. in English at the University of Rochester, and is currently an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Clemson University. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in New England Review, Mississippi Review, American Fiction, The Journal, Brooklyn Review, South Carolina Review, Chronicle of Higher Education, Twentieth Century Literature, and Southwestern American Literature. He has received awards from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the New York State Writers' Institute. He lives with his wife, Lane, and their son, Quinn in Clemson, South Carolina.

Praise for What We Won't Do:

"The honesty herein is not the sugarcoated sort, it's the sort that exacts revenge by goading others into doing what we can't or won't do ourselves...You haven't read these stories before, and that's the highest compliment that I can pay them. That and the fact that they made me laugh, out loud, and frightened me a little, and still do."

- from the Foreword by Mark Richard

"Animated by their author's nimble with and scathing intelligence, characters burn and stumble and scour their way across one another's lives, making bad choices with brio, striving to etch a lasting mark on the world. One way or another, they always succeed. The stories in What We Won't Do are hilarious and devastating—not less hilarious for being devastating, and not less devastating for being hilarious."

- Erin McGraw, author of Lies of the Saints

"Reading Brock Clarke's stories, I found myself constantly stopping to share lines—some funny, some wicked, some tender—with my wife, who started the book as soon as I'd finished. She then read me different lines and we marveled at how much these pages hold, how inexhaustible their supply of riches. What a book, what a writer, what a career to watch."

- Tom Franklin, author of Poachers

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.

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 our "accidental evil, rank insecurity, and plain human weakness" is more than insightful; it's downright funny.

Read a short story, Specify the Learners, from What We Won't Do
by Brock Clarke
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