Friday, May 12, 2017

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain ***

Have you read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn? How about The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County? And Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court? If you still want more Mark Twain, you might try Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain.

But I do not recommend it.

This short book starts with his famous description of the fabulous life of steamboat pilots on the Mississippi. The description of the training and prestige is fascinating. However, after the saga of the steamboat pilot, the remainder of the book is a hodgepodge of short anecdotes and histories of various towns along the Mississippi. The latter often include tedious listings of demographic and economic statistics. The dull reporting is mixed in with classic Mark Twain digressions, such as a rant against Walter Scott and a discussion of the lagniappe tradition in New Orleans, which was recently the subject of an NPR podcast.

Mercifully short and of mixed interest.

The final chapter has a great description of the Twin Cites in the late 19th century.

No comments: