Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1

To tell the truth, I'm not really sure what version of this I read. It was on the kindle I still have on long-term loan from a friend (thanks again, Amy!), and I'm not going to wade through to try to figure out which one exactly it is. I read some of Mark Twain's autobiography.

And it's a lot like being at a family reunion, listening to an interesting but very meandering relative tell you all about his life. And whether that sounds like fun or hell to you may indeed indicate how you'd feel about this book. I would actually enjoy it, and I enjoyed this. Twain, as I am in no way the first to say, can turn a phrase like nobody's business. He's witty, he's caustic, and he has a cat named Lazy who rides around on his shoulder sleeping.

Twain apparently decided that writing a memoir chronologically would be boring to write, and ended up taking as much time to write as it did to live. So he decided to try something different - to dictate on whatever he felt like dictating on on a particular day, and so these stories follow a daisy chain of reminiscences, and as he finishes one, he starts on another, and they are in no way in order.

It's a little strange at time, and sometimes the patter lags, but I love Twain's writing style, and I enjoy hearing his stories, even about when they're about wanting an inventor's nuts in a...what was it? It wasn't a vice. Something similar and painful.

Much of this book is about his deceased daughter Susy, and her own memoir of her father. There's a great deal of a father commenting on his daughter's childhood biography of him, and then spinning yarns.

Also, in this edition, whichever it is, about his friendship with Ulysses S. Grant, and the vagaries of renting a villa in Italy.

Hopefully this will give you an idea of whether or not it is for you. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I can imagine that it might have irritated others to no end. I look forward to future volumes myself, though.

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