Friday, November 26, 2010

Mark Twain: Man of Zingers

Anybody who loves Mark Twain is probably just as excited as I am about the release of his memoirs. Twain dictated them in his later life, following no discernible order such as chronological, but rather one of "today I'm going to talk about what's on my mind." Thus he leaps all over the place. He also stipulated that his words not be released until 100 years after his death. So, he didn't hold his tongue. And let me tell you, in his later life, Twain was a crotchety old man. A smart, opinionated, and in many ways an angry, bitter, suspicious old man. Still, he's funny as hell and is a lion of American arts & letters.

I can't imagine editing the mammoth three volumes amassed, but the first volume is now on bookstore shelves and I've asked for it for Christmas. (That's another hint, Chelle.) Reviews are positive, and they all remark that Twain's political comments hold true to this very day, almost prescient. He's arrogant but often hits his target with a bullseye. Here's a Twain quotation from today's Chronicle:

"When I build a fire under a person ... I do not do it merely because of the enjoyment I get out of seeing him fry, but because he is worth the trouble. ... I do not fry the small, the commonplace, the unworthy."

You see what I'm saying.

Here's a link to the book at Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1.

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