Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 - I asked for it...

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - I was intrigued by the reviews of the recently published Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1, largely because I found out that most of Twain's classic books were written in Elmira, New York - not exactly a locale that inspires.

But maybe it does.

As I read more and more of the reviews (and now the actual tome), I realize that flights of imagination are sometimes easier in places where you have to use your imagination.

Here at the condo where I write this, I don't need to imagine scantily clad young women around a pool, I just need to look out the sliding glass door. (Whoa, lookey there!)

And so as we live in the midst of a palm-lined paradise (here in Nuevo Vallarta and down in Arroyo Seco), I realize that for me, the writing comes easier when the foul rain of upstate New York is pounding on the roof. Ah, and summer is coming in a few months and so will be the rains of Valois and Watkins Glen, New York.

I was so intrigued by the reviews - and then by a conversation with Elmira attorney John Mustico about the book in December - that I ordered a copy once here in Mexico and had nephew Nate Schwartz pack it with him when he came down a few weeks ago to visit La Manzanilla.

Be careful what you wish for and order from

Volume 1 is nearly 800 pages long - with more than 200 pages of prequel, explaining how various people, foundations, authors, organizations, committees and noted scholars put this book together. It would be interesting to see what Twain might think about how it was drafted.

But the work is all Twain - either written or dictated over many years.

At first, it was very difficult reading. His style is interesting and complicated, but 100 years after his death, readers are used to a more direct style of writing.  I sure am.

Still, now that I read 10 pages or so per night, his style is catching on with me and I look forward to the time I get to spend immersed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Perhaps it might be time this summer to review Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn - providing I get through the next 500 pages of the Autobiography by the time I return to New York.