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Endearing, infuriating, and utterly irresistible, Lamar Kerry is a twenty-seven-year-old Ordinary White Boy. He wears khaki pants, work boots, and flannel shirts; dances like Mick Jagger when he dances at all (only when drunk); and when in doubt, he reaches for a beer. His father sent him to college expecting him to become extraordinary, but Lamar returned home a bright, cocky, over-educated, middle-class boy adrift in a depressed, comatose, working-class town.
Now the town's only Hispanic is missing and feared dead, Lamar's mother is enfeebled by MS, and both his girlfriend and his father are tired of being disappointed in him. Can Lamar turn himself into a professor of "racist remediation" and save the soul of his town? Can he stop hiding out in his ordinariness and do what is right by his father, his mother, his girlfriend, and himself? Can this ordinary white boy finally become a man?
With a character both unforgettably unique yet universal, in a voice both tender and biting, Clarke mixes subtle social criticism with laugh-out-loud funny observations and introduces to literature the ordinary white boy in all of us.
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Brock Clarke's debut novel, The Ordinary White Boy, is a familiar story of a young man finding comfort with himself amidst an average life of work, relationships, and occasional hardships. Lamar Carney, in his khaki pants and flannel shirts, lets life happen to him, always saying he would rather be doing nothing than something.
The truth is that I don't want to be special... Being special can make you think that you are something you're not: it can make you believe, say, that you live in a city when in reality you live in a shrinking little mill town. Being special can also make you believe that you're too important to go out and cover emergency school-board meetings for forty dollars a pop, plus mileage.
Throughout most of the novel, Lamar questions conventional society, even though he is destined to conform to it. Still, Clarke has done wonders subtly producing a special sort of character, even though Lamar might claim otherwise. A refreshing, casual read. --Yvonne SchindlerAbout the Author:
Brock Clarke is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at the University of Cincinnati. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous reviews and journals, and his short-story collection, What We Won't Do, won the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction. He lives with his wife and son in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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