cover image I, Grape; Or the Case for Fiction: Essays

I, Grape; Or the Case for Fiction: Essays

Brock Clarke. Acre, $17 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-946724-36-6

Novelist Clarke (The Happiest People in the World) chronicles in this whimsical outing his obsession with fiction as an art form that “can take a subject we think we know, a subject that has been talked and written about, and it can make us ask ‘Why?’ ” In 15 funny essays, Clarke alternates between personal stories and literary criticism. The biting “The Novel Is Dead; Long Live the Novel” questions whether a novel can, or should, be “timely.” “Why Good Literature Makes Us Bad People” suggests it’s wrong to look to novels for self-improvement. The title essay is a brief meditation on the author’s frustration when his son uses incorrect grammar. While Clarke makes a number of entertaining arguments about fiction (building a case as to why more stories should be set in Cincinnati, and why meanness in storytelling is preferable to goodness), his prose can lean on stylistic tics, as when he invites deeper thought by tossing off a series of unanswered questions. This impassioned defense of fiction is great for dipping into, and those who engage with fiction on a deep level will find much here that piques. (Mar.)