I actually finished this months ago and just realized that I had not gotten around to writing this up. As I will be getting up very early tomorrow morning to catch a flight to retrieve a very special 1985 Grand Wagoneer, this looks to be a rather brief entry.
If ever there was a case of my having purchased a book based on its title, it was this one. Marketing/presentation aside, the novel was a funny one. Sam Pulsifer, the novel's protagonist is the classic post-modern schlemiel, in the vein of Pynchon's Benny Profane. Pulsifer accidentally burned down Emily Dickinson's house as a teen, killing a husband and wife in the process. After ten years in prison, he begins a new life, finds a wife, starts a family. Then his old life comes crashing in on his new life, and everything he does makes things worse. That's when other writers' homes beginning to go up in flames, and the hero must delve into the mystery of who is framing him.
The book does a good job of sending up much of the literary community and academia. It's funny with a few laugh-out-loud moments. The read itself is relatively light, which is by no means a bad thing. The first-person narration is engaging, and the unfolding of the mystery is done deftly.
Basically, if you want to read a book in which Emily Dickinson's home was burned down (read: me), then this is a book for you.