Matthew J.C. Clark: Bjarki, Not Bjarki: On Floorboards, Love, and Irreconcilable Differences

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024, 6:30 pm

Maine carpenter Matthew J.C. Clark visits Gibson's Bookstore to present Bjarki, Not Bjarki: On Floorboards, Love, and Irreconcilable Differences. This book of essays asks: How do we make sense of the world and of ourselves, especially when the floor beneath us is so unstable, when nothing is quite what we had hoped it would be? As Matthew Clark—a carpenter by trade—begins researching a magazine-style essay about Bjarki Thor Gunnarsson, a young man who manufactures the widest, purest, most metaphorical pine floorboards on the planet, he comes to discover that nothing is quite as it seems. Santa Claus arrives by helicopter. A wedding diamond disappears. A dead coyote jumps to its feet. And then, at a Thai restaurant in central Maine, Bjarki is transformed into an eggplant.

In Bjarki, Not Bjarki, Clark wants nothing less than to understand everything, to make the world a better place, for you and him to love each other, and to be okay. He desires all of this sincerely, desperately even, and at the same time he proceeds with a light heart, playfully, with humor and awe. As Clark reports on the people and processes that transform the forest into your floor, he also ruminates on gift cards, crab rangoon, and Jean Claude Van Damme. He considers North American colonization, masculinity, the definition of disgusting, his own uncertain certainty. When the boards beneath our feet are so unstable, always expanding and cupping and contracting, how can we make sense of the world? What does it mean to know another person and to connect with them, especially in an increasingly polarized America?

About the author: Matthew J. C. Clark lives and works as a carpenter in Bath, Maine. His essays have appeared in True Story, the Antioch Review, the Seneca Review, Ecotone, the Indiana Review, Fourth Genre, Wag’s Revue, and CutBank.

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Event date: 
Tuesday, February 27, 2024 - 6:30pm
Event address: 
45 South Main Street
Concord, NH 03301
Bjarki, Not Bjarki: On Floorboards, Love, and Irreconcilable Differences By Matthew J. C. Clark Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609389352
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University Of Iowa Press - January 24th, 2024

“You know, I actually think about that an awful lot, like, what is our purpose in life? Why am I here?