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How to Set a Fire and Why

SUMMARY How to Set a Fire and Why

Striking intelligenceThe voice of teenaged Lucia is a tour de force a brilliant wrenching cry from the heart and mind of a super smart funny girl who can’t help telling us the truth a riveting chronicle of family misguided friendship and lossHow to Set a Fire and Why is Jesse Ball’s most accessible novel yet; after Silence Once Begun and A Cure for Suicide the pyrotechnics on display here will dazzle. “I thought about the fire I know it was just an abandoned building but I felt like something had happened a real thing for once My aunt’s stroke had felt pretty real too I guess real things happen all at once and then you go back to the false parade of garbage that characterizes modern life” How To Set a Fire And Why is the sixth novel by American author Jesse Ball Lucia Stanton lives in virtual poverty with her elderly Aunt Margaret in a garage at the back of a messy garden She has been thrown out of her last school for anti social behaviour and now attends Whistler High School When her aunt gives her a notebook with a black felted cover she decides to use in to write down her predictions The Book Of How Things Will GoIt is apparent from her narrative that Lucia is intelligent a lot smarter than some of her teachers But Lucia has a subversive streak and her aunt supports her individuality Along with predictions Lucia relates the events of her life in an almost stream of consciousness style And after some interaction with would be fire setters at her new school she also records in her notebook her own pamphlet HOW TO SET A FIRE AND WHYLucia’s behaviour may be related to the reason that her mother is essentially catatonic in a care facility that her father is dead his Zippo lighter is her only remaining piece of him and that her aunt is now her guardian But whatever those events may be they are never revealed to the reader Lucia is bright and audacious but for older readers may be a little difficult to relate to and some readers may have difficulty with the lack of uotation marks for speech Kelly Blair has designed a brilliantly clever cover to showcase this highly original novel 35★s An Amish Family Christmas us the truth a riveting chronicle of family misguided friendship and lossHow to Set a Fire and Why is Jesse Ball’s most accessible novel yet; after Silence Once Begun and A Cure for Suicide the pyrotechnics on display here will dazzle. “I thought about the fire I know it was just an abandoned building but I felt like something had happened a real thing for once My aunt’s stroke had felt pretty real too I guess real things happen all at once and then you go back to the false parade of garbage that characterizes modern life” How To Set a Fire And Why is the sixth novel by American author Jesse Ball Lucia Stanton lives in virtual poverty with her elderly Aunt Margaret in a garage at the back of a messy garden She has been thrown out of her last school for anti social behaviour and now attends Whistler High School When her aunt gives her a notebook with a black felted cover she decides to Die Ermordung einer Butterblume und andere Erzählungen use in to write down her predictions The Book Of How Things Will GoIt is apparent from her narrative that Lucia is intelligent a lot smarter than some of her teachers But Lucia has a subversive streak and her aunt supports her individuality Along with predictions Lucia relates the events of her life in an almost stream of consciousness style And after some interaction with would be fire setters at her new school she also records in her notebook her own pamphlet HOW TO SET A FIRE AND WHYLucia’s behaviour may be related to the reason that her mother is essentially catatonic in a care facility that her father is dead his Zippo lighter is her only remaining piece of him and that her aunt is now her guardian But whatever those events may be they are never revealed to the reader Lucia is bright and audacious but for older readers may be a little difficult to relate to and some readers may have difficulty with the lack of Ludwigs Zimmer uotation marks for speech Kelly Blair has designed a brilliantly clever cover to showcase this highly original novel 35★s

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A startling subversive novel about a teenage girl who has lost everything and will burn anythingFourteen year old Lucia is a young narrator whose voice will long ring in your ears She is angry with almost everyone especially people who tell her what to do She follows the one rule that makes any sense to her Don’t Do Things You Aren’t Proud Of Orphaned and living with her elderly aunt in poverty in the. Do you remember as a child how easy it seemed to solve life's problems If all the rich people shared their excess then there would be no poor Simple right In How to Set a Fire and Why a teenage girl Lucia discusses how she would go about making this the norm No homelessness no hunger no daily struggling and certainly no fat old money staring down their noses at the one's who weren't born so lucky But Lucia is sort of special Her personal life stressors combined with her impatient but advanced thought processes have dropped her impulse control down to zero She wants this to happen and she wants everyone on boardnow Most adolescents on the brim of independence need a sense of control They can smell the freedom but they can't reach it and it's enough to drive anyone crazy Lucia finds her control in her late father's trusty Zippo lighter It creates fire if she allows it Things are not on fire because she has not made it so She has total control of what burns She alone choosesI absolutely loved Lucia's character She's angry entitled unapologetic in your face unchallenged and bored as most kids with smart minds usually are While there may be a lot going on with her her message is almost childlike at its core Life has been unfair to her she's grieving and alone she wants life to be differentto be better I am slowly but surely making my way through Jesse Ball's books and this one is my favorite to date I'm looking forward to the next My favorite uote You will keep it in your pocket as a sort of token Stick your hand in there now and then as you go around and remember all the buildings that exist all the grand structures of wealth and power they remain standing because you permit them to remain With this little lick of flame in your pocket with this little gift of Prometheus you can reduce everyone to a sort of grim euality All those who ride on a high horse may be made to walk Therefore when you are at the bank and the bank manager speaks roughly to you when you are denied entrance to a restaurant or other place of business when you are made to work longer than you should need to when you are driven out of your own little dwelling and made to live in the street reach into your pocket caress your own little vehicle of flame and feel the comfort there We shall set fires—and when we set them we shall know why

Jesse Ball  6 CHARACTERS

Converted garage of a large mansion Lucia makes her way through the world with only a book a Zippo lighter and a pocket full of stolen licorice Expelled from school again Lucia spends her days riding the bus to visit her mother in The Home When Lucia discovers a secret Arson Club she will do anything to be a part of it Her own arson manifesto is a marvellous anarchist pamphlet written with biting wit and. I loved this Lucia's voice is blisteringly funny dark and unapologetically idealistic She's been dealt a shit hand in life and she's angry at the fakes idiots and condescending adults that she has to deal with every day The writing is fantastic I completely bought into Lucia as a narrator and was knocked out by her smart sad and hilarious take on the world I'm definitely going to chase down of Jesse Ball's books


10 thoughts on “How to Set a Fire and Why

  1. says:

    Do you remember as a child how easy it seemed to solve life's problems? If all the rich people shared their excess then there would be no poor Simple right? In How to Set a Fire and Why a teenage girl Lucia discusses how she would go about making this the norm No homelessness no hunger no daily struggling and certainly no fat old money staring down their noses at the one's who weren't born so lucky But Lucia is sort of special Her personal life stressors combined with her impatient but advanced thought processes have dropped her impulse control down to zero She wants this to happen and she wants everyone on boardnow Most adolescents on the brim of independence need a sense of control They can smell the freedom but they can't reach it and it's enough to drive anyone crazy Lucia finds her control in her late father's trusty Zippo lighter It creates fire if she allows it Things are not on fire because she has not made it so She has total control of what burns She alone choosesI absolutely loved Lucia's character She's angry entitled unapologetic in your face unchallenged and bored as most kids with smart minds usually are While there may be a lot going on with her her message is almost childlike at its core Life has been unfair to her she's grieving and alone she wants life to be differentto be better I am slowly but surely making my way through Jesse Ball's books and this one is my favorite to date I'm looking forward to the next My favorite uote You will keep it in your pocket as a sort of token Stick your hand in there now and then as you go around and remember all the buildings that exist all the grand structures of wealth and power they remain standing because you permit them to remain With this little lick of flame in your pocket with this little gift of Prometheus you can reduce everyone to a sort of grim euality All those who ride on a high horse may be made to walk Therefore when you are at the bank and the bank manager speaks roughly to you when you are denied entrance to a restaurant or other place of business when you are made to work longer than you should need to when you are driven out of your own little dwelling and made to live in the street reach into your pocket caress your own little vehicle of flame and feel the comfort there We shall set fires—and when we set them we shall know why


  2. says:

    ”Can you imagine? That you can say something offhand and it can matter it can really matter to someone else? Can you imagine what it’s like to hear something like that? To hear someone say something and feel the world ripple around you”Oh How to Set a Fire and Why what an odd little book you are What an oddball collection of characters you got and the sweetest sweetheart of an Auntie there is I feel you I feel you even where the writing is very detached and I certainly feel you when it manages to touch my heart“Just in case the letter doesn’t get all the way to you I gave it some wings so it could fly the rest of the way”Lucia was such a ferocious little genius y oddball girl I sincerely do not know how else to describe her she’s super tough and she’s utterly true to herself all of the times it makes me envious many times over I can tell you “view spoilerMy aunt’s stroke had felt pretty real too hide spoiler


  3. says:

    Jesse Ball is one of the most interesting writers around PERIOD He is fearless inventive and somehow manages to have a distinct voice although his books all have their own peculiar vibe I just loved the enigmatic Census winner of the Gordon Burn Prize 2018 and rightly so and while it would be apt so say that I rather admired than loved How to Set a Fire and Why the sound of its teenage narrator Lucia intrigued me To write from the perspective of a rebellious teen can easily take a turn for the pretentious and embarrasing but certainly not in the hands of this author Lucia is smart strong and fragile at the same time as she is trying to come to terms with the tough world around her With her father dead and her mother in a mental institution she is living in a garage with her beloved elderly aunt At school she is struggling because she is unwilling to play by rules she perceives as hollow this clever misfit is under a lot of pressure and didn't we all feel like burning everything to the ground at some point? Although still young she has no illusions regarding the workings of the world and feels a sense of futility but nevertheless she believes that people can be kind or at least kinder to each other if they want to but what if they don't? Lucia who always carries her late father's zippo with her joins a mysterious Arson Club and starts to write a pamphlet entitled How to Set a Fire and Why in which she elaborates on arson as a form of resistance against an oppressive system that values wealth and property above anything else This novel is held together by the captivating voice of Ball's narrator while the text itself digresses again and again it's part of the poetic concept and helps to unfold Lucia's worldview but I found it a little tedious sometimes I'm generally struggling with meandering narratives it's just not my thing While it becomes clear that Ball once wrote a book which is at its core dealing with uestions of compassion I found parts of Lucia's pamphlet slightly placative which put me off because the book truly shines in its most edgy passagesStill I absolutely love Jesse Ball and have the greatest admiration for his work and his world of ideas I can't wait to read whatever he comes up with next


  4. says:

    This is my third Jesse Ball novel and I have to say I can’t think of another contemporary author who has such an original and inventive voice and style The best thing about Ball is that he’s no one trick pony the only thing his books have in common is that they are each wholly uniueIn How to Set a Fire and Why his protagonist is a teenage girl named Lucia who tells us her story through a series of journal entries The best way I can describe Lucia is like this Imagine Holden Caulfield if he were into arson class warfare and vigilante justice If that isn’t enough to piue your interest I don’t know what to tell youLucia’s father is dead and her mother is in a mental institution She lives with her 75 year old aunt who fully supports her niece’s myriad outlets for teen rebellion After getting kicked out of her previous high school Lucia finds a way to fit in at her new school she join’s a secret Arson ClubI’m afraid I’m making this all sound very dark but it’s not Lucia’s voice is hilarious sardonic and sarcastic She’s smart enough to rationalize her penchant for destruction insightful enough to clarify that while she doesn’t think there’s meaning in anything she also doesn’t find nihilism excitingLucia is a uniue new voice in teen rebellion convinced that what she sets out to do is right and just Most of us have been there before though hopefully not to the point of committing felonies Still it’s hard to feel anything but love for this subversive characterI recommend this book to anyone who is drawn to uirky novels from Chuck Palahniuk’s nihilism and anarchy to Miranda July’s peculiar tenderness


  5. says:

    Lucia Stanton is a cynical 14 year old misfit who lives with her elderly aunt in a garage At first she only supports the idea of arson but events draw her into getting personally involved This is one of those fairly rare novels that stand out immediately for the first person voice Lucia reminded me of Holden Caulfield or of Mim Malone from David Arnold’s Mosuitoland She’s like a cynical philosopher For as heartbreaking as her family history is she was always either making me laugh or impressing me with her wisdom Although this is his sixth novel I hadn’t heard much about Jesse Ball prior to picking it up His skill at creating the interior world of a troubled 14 year old girl leads me to believe that the rest of his work would be well worth a lookSee my full review at The Bookbag


  6. says:

    I loved this Lucia's voice is blisteringly funny dark and unapologetically idealistic She's been dealt a shit hand in life and she's angry at the fakes idiots and condescending adults that she has to deal with every day The writing is fantastic I completely bought into Lucia as a narrator and was knocked out by her smart sad and hilarious take on the world I'm definitely going to chase down of Jesse Ball's books


  7. says:

    Wow what a book I can't figure out another author who writes like Jesse Ball does He suffuses so much artistry and philosophy into his writing and characters that his books are hard to classify Longer review to come This is a toughie to digest but I am very impressed and highly recommend it


  8. says:

    She told me I was a good writer but I could tell she didn't care about it Good writer like one of the ones who leaves the good parts outJesse Ball this is how I feel about you The whole book I was waiting waiting waiting for something interesting to happen Every moment felt like it was just a temporary fix to a plot going nowhere distracting the reader from realizing that they're wasting their time The school doesn't even have an Arson Club The blurb is misleading It's like he wants you to believe Lucia becomes involved and interesting and that's not the case She's just dull with new people surrounding her But like I said not an Arson ClubWhat seemed to be one of the most important parts the pamphlet itself was terribly boring and seemed to lose Lucia's voice in my opinion When I finally became interested once she actually set the fire it was over It felt like We did it We climbed to the top of the mountain and didn't get the descend I wanted aftermath I wanted conseuences On the other hand maybe that was for the best It probably would've disappointed me as much as the rest of the book did anyway so maybe it was better to end on a high note if I can even truly call that one Maybe I would've enjoyed it if I liked Lucia as a character but I didn't It felt like Jesse was trying too hard to make her jaded I couldn't help but think the entire way through Jesse Ball has no fucking clue what it means to be a teenage girl


  9. says:

    “I thought about the fire I know it was just an abandoned building but I felt like something had happened a real thing for once My aunt’s stroke had felt pretty real too I guess real things happen all at once and then you go back to the false parade of garbage that characterizes modern life” How To Set a Fire And Why is the sixth novel by American author Jesse Ball Lucia Stanton lives in virtual poverty with her elderly Aunt Margaret in a garage at the back of a messy garden She has been thrown out of her last school for anti social behaviour and now attends Whistler High School When her aunt gives her a notebook with a black felted cover she decides to use in to write down her predictions The Book Of How Things Will GoIt is apparent from her narrative that Lucia is intelligent a lot smarter than some of her teachers But Lucia has a subversive streak and her aunt supports her individuality Along with predictions Lucia relates the events of her life in an almost stream of consciousness style And after some interaction with would be fire setters at her new school she also records in her notebook her own pamphlet HOW TO SET A FIRE AND WHYLucia’s behaviour may be related to the reason that her mother is essentially catatonic in a care facility that her father is dead his Zippo lighter is her only remaining piece of him and that her aunt is now her guardian But whatever those events may be they are never revealed to the reader Lucia is bright and audacious but for older readers may be a little difficult to relate to and some readers may have difficulty with the lack of uotation marks for speech Kelly Blair has designed a brilliantly clever cover to showcase this highly original novel 35★s


  10. says:

    If JD Salinger’s Holden Caulfield had a tryst with Stephen King’s Carrie perhaps she would be a bit like Lucia Stanton – cynical disillusioned subversive self aware and lost Her father is dead her mother is ailing and she lives full time with her destitute yet caring aunt in a converted garage Every day she wears the same “uniform” to school where she is marginalized Unlike her schoolmates who are burning with the promise of adolescence Lucia’s flame may be predestined to uickly burn out Until she meets up with other misfits in the Sonar Club an acronym for Arson Club and seriously begins to explore how she can set fire to the worldThere is indeed a manifesto printed within these pages that fulfills the promise of the title stating how to set a fire and why It is the “why” that fuels the narrative of the book For those whose promising flames are being extinguished by hypocrisy and injustice inability to embrace those who are different or even to recognize their potential and forced to participate in the “false parade of garbage that characterizes modern life” burning down the past and striking out for new horizons evocative of Huckleberry Finn sometimes seems the only solutionI expect to be prodded and provoked by Jesse Ball’s prose; no two past efforts have been alike How to Build A Fire And Why does not disappoint


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