Posts Tagged ‘Mark Twain’

“Mud” Updates Mark Twain Very Well

May 6, 2013

A good story, bolstered by first-rate acting and directing, can still give low-budget movies a good chance to make a neat profit and give mentally adult people a reason to go to the movies.  “Mud” is, in my view, one of those very special movies.

Like Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer,” and “Huckleberry Finn,” which inspired writer-director Jeff Nichols, “Mud” is a coming-of-age story about two boys learning about the pains and joys of  love and life, with the Mississippi River serving as the backdrop. Twain wrote his tales in the late 19th Century. “Mud” is contemporary. 

Matthew McConaughey, as Mud, who hides on an island in the river because he is wanted for murder, turns in an excellent  performance.   Tye Sheridan,  and  Jacob Lofland, as the two young teen-age boys who try to help him, and Reese Witherspoon, as the woman he tries to reunite with, match McConaughey’s performance, with Sheridan standing out as the central character.

We saw it a the Ritz 13, which was doing really big business Sunday afternoon.  “Mud” had a respectable turn-out, with adults out-numbering teenagers by a large margin.  The reason, thoiugh, was that the parking lot was packed because “Iron Man III” was playing on six screens.  I can guarantee you the teenagers were not outnumbered in those theaters.  I plan to see it, too. You know, young at heart and all that.  

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Finally, “Reading” “Huckleberry Finn”

October 1, 2012

After reading that writers like Ernest Hemingway lavished praise on Mark Twain for writing  “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” I decided that I needed to read the book all the way through.  

 Hemingway wrote in 1934: “The good writers are Henry James, Stephen Crane, and Mark Twain. That’s not the order they’re good in. There is no order for good writers…. All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ If you read it you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. But it’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.”  

H.L. Mencken wrote in 1913, “I believe that ‘Huckleberry Finn’ is one of the great masterpieces of the world, that it is the full equal of ‘Don Quixote‘ and ‘Robinson Crusoe,’ that it is vastly better than Gil Blas, ‘Tristram Shandy,’ ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ or ‘Tom Jones.’ “

If those two great American writers had such nice hings to say about “Huckleberry Finn.” I figure I need to read it, and I have found the best way for me to do it. I am listening to the audiobook version as I walk two miles every day.  Patrick Fraley does a brilliant job of reading it, using many different voices to portray the characters. I’m beginning to see why some people consider it the “Great American Novel.”  As you probably know, it has been banned a number of times over the years.  The first time that happened Twain was pleased, saying the banning would sell an additional 25,000 copies.  No doubt subsequent bannings have also sold a lot of copies. 

 

 

Keeping my Monday Promise

December 20, 2010

I promised that I would always try to have a new post at least every Monday, but with Christmas shopping and a special Christmas card I am planning for you, my plate is full, as it were. (Ever wonder what the heck “as it were” means?) But, full plate or not, a promise is a promise. 

Then again, maybe Mark Twain had the right idea. Here’s what he says about promises in The Innocents Abroad, which I am just getting around to reading.

 
 
 

Mark Twain, as photographed by Mathew Brady

  “I never could keep a promise. I do not blame myself for this weakness, because the fault must lie in my physical organization. It is likely that such a very liberal amount of space was given to the organ which enables me to make promises that the organ which should enable me to keep them was crowded out. But I grieve not. I like no half-way things. I had rather have one faculty nobly developed than two faculties of mere ordinary capacity.”

As I said, I am just getting around to reading it, and at the same time sampling the Autobiography of Mark Twain, the new autobiography that contains a lot of material just released, because he stipulated it not be released until 100 years after his death.  Sampling seems appropriate to this highly publicised book because it is pretty much a stream of consciousness affair.

On top of all of that reading, I am really engrossed in Ken Follett’s new epic, Fall of Giants, the first volume of his 20th Century trilogyAfter reading Pillars of the Earth, I decided that I would immediately read anything  he writes.  He has to be one of the world’s greatest writers. His style is contemporary, which makes it easy to read because he makes no attempt to impress us with long, convoluted sentences, but he does throw in a word we have to look up occasionally, which I like, because I like learning the meanings of new words, as long as there are not so many as to drastically slow down reading.

Before I started reading Fall of Giants, I read John Franzen’s highly touted Freedom. Critics who proclaimed its greatness say it reflects the current society. I agree, but I really don’t think his writing is as engrossing as Follett’s.  He really gets into long, convoluted sentences and weighs us down with tedious detail.  That is, of course, just my opinion, but it’s the one I value the most when it comes to books, movies, music, plays, and art. Let’s face it, reviewing is a subjective endeavour.