Peter Leroy considers the origins of his childhood pelecypodophobia (the fear of bivalve mollusks), meets the imaginary friend who will remain his best friend for life, memorizes the legends of his ancestors in the Leroy line (including Black Jacques Leroy, who “invented beer”), studies his father's nude photographs of family friend May Castle, and enjoys a moonlight swim with Margot and Martha, the Glynn twins, after which he concludes that clams do not bite.
"Do Clams Bite? chronicles Peter's sufferings when he goes clamming with his grandfather, expecting momentarily to have a vital hunk of his anatomy bitten off (a fear known as pelecypodiophobia). These otherwise cherished visits to his grandparents are enriched by glimpses of Great-Grandmother Leroy, who lives at the top of the house in a room filled with coconuts carved to represent members of the family, including the legendary brewer Black Jacques Leroy. . . . In presenting his characters in all their banality, looniness, and bungling, Kraft does it with a kind of tender respect for the basic dignity of even the most pathetic and obnoxious."
Lee Pennock Huntington, Vermont Sunday Magazine
“At times, reading Kraft is like stumbling across memories of your own life, and yet the work is self-consciously — pointedly — literary. Its allusions, some blatant and others invisibly woven in, range from Proust to Mark Twain. Its jokes range in style from buffoonish vaudeville to the kind of deadpan drollery you find in Raymond Queneau.”
Anna Shapiro, The New Yorker
“Because Kraft expresses an abiding faith in steadfast love and impossible dreams, because he uses humor to shape a humanistic ethos, and because he takes profound pleasure in the resonance of language and the magic of storytelling, reading Kraft’s inventive and effervescent tales is a rare and sustaining joy.”
Donna Seaman, Newsday
“[Kraft’s Peter Leroy series is] perhaps the most ambitious and rewarding literary enterprise of our time. . . . Even when you find yourself laughing aloud, it would be a mistake to take Eric Kraft lightly.”
Andrew Ervin, The San Francisco Chronicle
“The cumulative effect of Kraft’s work is of a sober humor that refuses easy answers. . . . This is crafty work indeed and certain to endure when more pretentious and more touted writers are forgotten.”
Bob Williams, The Compulsive Reader
“Reading the Peter Leroy saga is akin to watching a champion juggler deftly keep dozens of balls in the air while executing an intricate double-time dance routine—all without breathing hard. . . . Sentimental, loving, raucous, wise, and great fun, this is simply not to be missed.”
LENGTH: novella; approximately 20,000 words; 96 pages in the trade paperback edition
Cover Image: Albert Edelfelt, “Boys Playing on the Shore” (detail, 1884)