Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Pg. 99: Matthew J. C. Clark's "Bjarki, Not Bjarki"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Bjarki, Not Bjarki: On Floorboards, Love, and Irreconcilable Differences by Matthew J. C. Clark.

About the book, from the publisher:
“You know, I actually think about that an awful lot, like, what is our purpose in life? Why am I here? I always think about some little kid being like, ‘What’d you do with your life?’ And me being like, ‘Well, I sold a bunch of floors.’”

These are the words of Bjarki Thor Gunnarsson, the young man who manufactures the widest, purest, most metaphorical pine floorboards on the planet.

As Matthew Clark—a carpenter by trade—begins researching a magazine-style essay about Bjarki and his American Dream Boards, 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?
Visit Matthew J. C. Clark's website.

The Page 99 Test: Bjarki, Not Bjarki.

--Marshal Zeringue