Wednesday, April 29, 2009


"You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter". This is the opening to Mark Twain's ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN(notice the missing "THE" in the title)which for me is without a doubt the greatest American novel---or at least one of them. Written in the vernacular, they say it took Mark Twain years to write. Perfection takes time. This is the only novel I've read numerous times intermittently throughout my life. I read it first as a young boy and lately about eight years ago(God! I'm old) I'm planning to read it again soon if I can find my copy. I have many copies of this classic, but for some reason seem to mislay it somewhere when books are shuffled around. My wife found two copies of Huck a while back and said, "For God's sake, put these some place safe, we're overrun by Huck Finn". She always exaggerates.

So what can I say about this beautiful novel that could possibly do it justice? It involves a trip on a raft down the Mississippi river with an awkward but sincere boy Huckleberry Finn, and his best loyal friend Jim who happens to be a runaway slave. This is excellent literature touching on themes controversial at the time and even pertinent today. I have to tell you about one scene especially. Runaway slaves were hunted down by unscrupulous characters driven by monetary gain as well as sinister cruelty. On this foggy night on the Mississippi river, these slave hunters yell out to Huck and ask him if the man next to him on the raft is white or black. Huck always strives to be good and do the right thing, and weighs in his mind what would be the RIGHT answer. Here Twain puts Huck in a moral dilemma so powerful and weighty that reading it causes you to pause and think of its true meaning. Just because Jim is such a good friend, and nothing more, convinces Huck to shout back,"White". This is excellent stuff.

The only weakness in this novel is the point near the end where Tom Sawyer appears and seems to take over the action. Tom Sawyer is such a dynamic character that he upstages Huck in the final scenes, and the novel suffers from this. I usually rush through these pages. Perhaps Mark Twain should have taken another year to secure a more tightened conclusion.

It just completely puzzles me and completely angers me to see this great book on the banned book list. I really don't want to get into the weak, ridiculous arguments proposed by these short-sighted people. It's such a shame.

So if I can find one of my copies of Huckleberry, I just may start to read it(the novel I'm reading now is weighing me down heavily). Maybe I'll ask my wife.

Next: Electronic/Digital books (ugh)

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