Massachusetts Hall opened its doors to Brock Clarke, Associate Professor of English, on Wednesday, with students and Brunswick residents gathering to hear a reading from his latest novel.

Clarke's reading included excerpts from his recently published book, "Exley," as well as from his short story, "Plowing the Secondaries."

"Exley" follows Clarke's second novel, "An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England," as an exploration for truth in Watertown, N.Y., during the Iraq War.

"This has been a lifelong project of trying to show my love of upstate New York—a project that is still going on," said Clarke.

This year is Clarke's first as a Bowdoin professor. He previously taught at the University of Cincinnati, and received his doctorate from the University of Rochester and his bachelor's degree from Dickinson College.

"In the last 10 years, he has been outrageously—even offensively—productive," said Associate Professor of English Peter Coviello.

At the age of 25, Clarke took four years to stop reading books and begin writing. Since then, he has published three novels, and two collections of short stories in addition to academic papers; and has received praise from the The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly.

"What makes Brock Clarke's fiction as remarkable as it is the high spirited comedy at all points, conjoined with and ballasted by an exquisitely keen sense of the constant nearness of sadness," said Coviello.

"Mine's a cautionary tale," said Clarke. "I wasted a lot of took me a while to realize you can't find a way out of mediocre writing by not writing."

As a professor and writer, Clarke is no longer wasting his time. He finds that his time spent writing and time spent teaching play off one another.

"Sometimes, when I'm writing poorly, teaching and talking with students and colleagues can give me some perspective on my failure, and some ideas about how I might not be such a failure," Clarke said.

Inspired by his students, Clarke returns the favor.

"First of all, [Clarke's reading] gave me an incredible impression of what a great resource he is," said Sarah Pritzker '11. "I'm just walking away somewhat in awe of his ability to write and what he has to say."