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3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  2,305 Ratings  ·  556 Reviews
In this masterful debut by a major new voice in fiction, Jon Clinch takes us on a journey into the history and heart of one of American literature’s most brutal and mysterious figures: Huckleberry Finn’s father. The result is a deeply original tour de force that springs from Twain’s classic novel but takes on a fully realized life of its own.

Finn sets a tragic figure loose
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published February 20th 2007 by Random House (first published January 1st 2007)
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Dec 05, 2007 Grace rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: strong stomached fiction lovers
Shelves: 2007
I usually have a pretty strong stomach when it comes to fiction. In television and movies, I can handle most anything and am not really bothered by violence, gore, or abuse. Because I don't see pictures when I read, this is even more the case with books than with visual media--give me the nasty stuff, I can take it.

Jon Cinch's Finn, however, bothered me. The book is not supremely graphic in its gore, but it does contain multiple murders, one of which includes body dismemberment, and the sexual a
Izetta Autumn
I am not even sure where to begin in rating Finn by Jon Clinch. First you should probably ignore my star rating, because this isn't a book whose rating, will give any true indication of the love/hate relationship you may have with the book.

You'll love it, because without a doubt, Clinch has a talent as a writer. He feels like a modern-day Faulkner. His language is fluid, poetic, evocative, and then in an instant, sparse and nearly mechanical it its accuracy and sharpness.

You will hate it becaus
Aug 23, 2008 Amanda rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of Southern Gothic; those who admire (but don't worship) the work of Mark Twain
Recommended to Amanda by: Todd Ewing
Well, I'm not really sure what to say about Finn. I can't say that I loved it, nor can I say that I hated it. I wish that I had read Huckleberry Finn before reading the book so that I could make more comparisons between the two, and I would have known more about the story line that inspired Clinch.

I admire that Clinch didn't try to imitate Mark Twain's writing style; to have done so would have robbed his portrayal of Finn (who I understand, even in Twain's work, is hinted at being a dark, moral
Jul 10, 2011 Teresa rated it really liked it
The prose of the omniscient narrator is abundant and colorful; and is counterbalanced by the spare, realistic (I like how the characters interrupt each other) dialogue, or is it that the dialogue offsets the narration? Regardless; it works, even if the characters do say "I know it" quite a bit.

One scene in a book already full of violence reminded me of the scene in the movie "Pulp Fiction" that's funny despite it concerning a death (the one in the car). Here, it's a well-done, slapstick kind of
This review was originally posted in 2010 on another site (which shall remain nameless):

If you are a fan of Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," as I am, you may have wondered about Huck's parents. Why was his father an alcoholic vagrant who abused his son? How did that father end up dead in a house floating down the Mississippi River? And who was Huck's mother? And what happened to her?

Now we have the answers to those questions and more. They are not provided by Mark Twain, but by
Jun 28, 2007 Jim rated it it was amazing
When I was in the seventh grade, St. James’s drama department put on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and I was cast as Alfred Temple, Tom’s competitor for the attention of Becky Thatcher. Tom and Alfred come to blows over her affections and on opening night, Tom tackled me and pinned me to the stage. The violence of Tom’s rough attack caught me off-guard. Needless to say, it hadn’t gone quite like that during rehearsals.

On the second night, I punched Tom Sawyer in the face, and it was on. Alfred
Jul 02, 2007 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Huckleberry Finn's father, but no light-hearted jaunt down the Mississippi. Dark, but pure poetry to read. Beautifully written. You hate Finn and you know he's going to die, but you root for him, nonetheless. I think this is the REAL story of Huckleberry Finn. A must read for anyone.
Sep 16, 2007 Melody rated it it was amazing
Mesmerising imagining of Pap Finn, Huck's drunken racist pig of a sire. Violent, horrific and astonishingly well-written, Clinch's first novel rushes in where no one's ever dared go. What Clinch has accomplished here is nothing short of breath-taking. Finn's a bad man who isn't the least bit likable, which makes this novel even more remarkable in its humanity and even tenderness. The tone is just remote and scholarly enough to keep one a step away from Finn, but I could certainly smell him. High ...more
Mar 30, 2011 Lou rated it really liked it
Read recent interview i had with the author, he talks about his forthcoming novel, THE THIEF OF AUSCHWITZ @

This novel brings you back to Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
The main protagonist is Finn the father of Huck, a bad man in every sense. He's racist, shellfish and violent. He does take to loving a black woman while at the same time looks down on and has a hatred towards black people. There will be sides of him that you will read of where
Chris Matsagas
Jan 12, 2008 Chris Matsagas rated it liked it
I had this book recommended to me by a friend when I told them that I was reading "The Adventures of Huck Finn" by Mark Twain for the first time. I'm kind of into these books that give an alternative view of a popular world if done well, and having just finished Mark Twain's story it seemed like as good a time to give it a shot as any, so I picked up the book.

At first it reminded me a lot of The Road, which I had also just read. Gone is the first-person speaking style of Huck Finn, replaced by a
Eric Kibler
Dec 19, 2012 Eric Kibler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: booktopia-2013
Every time I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain(and I've read it many times), the scene where Huck and Jim find Pap Finn's body in the floating house mystifies me. What's the deal with those masks? The scribblings on the wall? The wooden leg? How did the house come to be floating in the middle of the river? I always wanted to know what happened to Pap Finn. So, apparently, did Jon Clinch.

Clinch reproduces part of the aforementioned scene at the beginning of the book. Then he tells you Pap Finn's story. Pap is the son of a
Jun 28, 2007 Matthew rated it it was ok
Using Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a blueprint, particularly the scene where Jim and Huck discover Pap Finn's body, Jon Clinch elaborates on the life of Huck's alcoholic and abusive father, giving him a whole novel to himself. While some scenes from Huckleberry Finn are touched upon again (as when Finn kidnaps - or frees, depending on your attitude - Huck from the Widow Douglas's house), and while Clinch populates this world with an interesting supporting cast (notably: Fin ...more
Feb 23, 2007 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who like their fiction revisionist and gritty
Outstanding. I tend to read 'literary fiction,' but I don't particularly aim for books with a lot of darkness - but this book is pitch black. No heroes, no light, no redemption. What an incredible book. It has been a really, really long time since I felt truly sad when a book was over, but when I turned over the last page of Finn I was actually bummed out for a minute because it was over. The author stays within the time frame created by Twain, but creates a backstory for minor characters that a ...more
Sep 02, 2007 Ruth rated it it was amazing
The best book I read last year. This guy can WRITE!

May 11, 2011 Veronica rated it it was amazing
If you can get past the very dark and gruesome first chapter, then you’re in for an absolutely fascinating read. Finn is a brazen reimagining of the life and death of Pap Finn, Huckleberry Finn’s father.

In Mark Twain’s story, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Pap Finn does not appear quite often. When he does appear, he is the embodiment of evil, being the violent alcoholic father who beats Huck, kidnaps him and locks him up in a secluded cabin in the woods. Huck escapes and hides out in a nea
Jan 22, 2012 Kate_ev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having not read “Huckleberry Finn” I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to understand this book. As it happens I thought it worked perfectly well as a standalone book, I probably didn’t get some of the references but it certainly didn’t detract from my understanding of the story.
What struck me most about this book is the way the author is able to bring a character to life with very few words , he can use a simple smell and it easily conjures up a picture of a character in your head. I like th
Sep 07, 2008 Spuddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Finn, the infamous Huckleberry’s father, as mean and despicable a fictional character (or a real one, come to that) as ever graced the pages of a book, I think. His character was eluded to occasionally during the telling of Mark Twain’s classic tale, but this is his story—the tale of his upbringing, his adulthood, his relationships, his prejudices, and how Huck came to be as well. If the author is attempting to elicit sympathy for Finn—and I honestly don’t think that was his ...more
Jul 03, 2007 Tom rated it really liked it
A very innovative and captivating approach to the Huck Finn prequel. The author's imagination is well outside the box in the telling of Pap Finn's life and relationships. A dark novel that meshes perfectly with the much lighter Huckleberry Finn. Congratulations on a great first novel!
Dec 17, 2007 [riley] rated it it was amazing
Weeks later and I still can't get the images out of my head. Finn was a mesmerizing read that I recommend to any Mark Twain fan.

Wendy K
May 10, 2014 Wendy K rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book, but it wasn't without certain drawbacks. I'll start with the negatives, and then discuss why I ultimately thought it was a really good book.

This book has some serious issues, mainly that certain elements seem directly lifted from the writing of Cormac McCarthy, specifically Blood Meridian. Clinch's choice to have an imposing, authoritative figure called the Judge is just too close to seem coincidental. He should've just given that character a different name; i
Apr 16, 2009 Joseph rated it liked it
Recommends it for: All those who enjoy the challenge of reading important fiction.
Recommended to Joseph by: A friend on goodreads. Thanks for that!
Did I like it? Sure. Is Clinch a talented writer? Of course.
Why then only 3 stars.?
I'm not sure. I think it has something to do with the fact Clinch"appropriated" the main character from Twain's classic,The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. That's not right.
Twain's classic is too fine a book to be triffled with.I agree with Trilling (and a lot of others), who point out there are few books one can love as well or as long as Huckleberry Finn.
Read it as a child, and laugh out loud at the initiat
Mar 26, 2007 Erin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Huckleberry Finn
One of the most interesting discussions I have with my students about Huck is about his moral formation. In what ways has his abusive and alcoholic father "formed" his conscience? Perhaps Twain never expected us to look psychologically into his novel, but it's impossible not to reflect on Huck's formation, when we read about the racist, hog-like, monstrous Pap. So that's why I think this novel was an incredible idea!
I was skeptical, but I really liked this "prequel" to Huck Finn. I only wish I'd
Apr 04, 2007 Alex rated it it was amazing
This is an enjoyable read. It inspired me to go back and read Twain's Huck again - which was also fun. One of the pros of this book is the prose, which, although it goes too far once or twice, is excellent. One of the cons of this book might be that it subverts a theme in its source. In the original, Twain offers up an escape clause in the intro to avoid the fervor his liberal stance would otherwise stir up. Never-the-less one of the reasons it endures as a classic is because it has a very stron ...more
Feb 16, 2008 Terry rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 31, 2007 Cathy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any fan of American literature
It has been a spell since my last Huckleberry Finn read, but it all came back as I read through "Finn". I'm a big fan of books that expound on the curious characters that authors leave in the shadows but I'm leery of books that appear to be trying to capitalize on some greater novel that came before. This story was told so well you'd think Mark Twain himself was reading it to you, but at the same time, it doesn't attempt to compete with the original story. It was clever. It was insightful and on ...more
Mar 19, 2008 Gordon rated it liked it
A solid book. The main character is not likable, nor is he understandable, even to himself. Unlike so many modern novels, this one takes a minor character from the masterwork, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and weaves a world that would create Pap Finn and traces what he would have done outside of the novel that Twain shares with us. This is not a novel for children. It is a novel about adults and for adults. The elder Finn is dark and damaged, damaged by his harsh father and his awful worl ...more
Alex Hoshor
Jun 04, 2012 Alex Hoshor rated it really liked it
This book is a debut novel and yet it’s as brave and confident and knowing as anything I’ve read (which admittedly isn’t a ton, so calm down). It’s been a few years since I read Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer, and initially I had a notion to read them again in preface, but then thought better of it as I feared I may just set Clinch’s book up to fall short. Now I’m not so sure it would have mattered. Finn is just damn damn good. That’s two damn’s, I know it. It's a poetic narrative cut with usually brus ...more
Jun 01, 2007 Donyatta rated it really liked it
This is an unrelentingly dark tale of a violent man and his impact on the world around him. It portrays Huck's father as a racist who lusts after black women and "steals" Huck's mother, keeping her a virtual prisoner, although in truth she has nowhere else to go. All of this is overseen by his family, much to the disgust of his even more racist father, "the Judge" and the sorrow of his brother. Although Finn is the more outwardly repulsive the novel slowly revels that the Judge is the more evil ...more
May 03, 2008 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I was sorely tempted to give this novel 5 stars. It's not just an inventive hook (Pardon the visual pun), but a stunning reinvention of a small character into a full-blown, shakespearean tragic antihero. Finn is the father of Huckelberry Finn, and a vicious, self-loathing, deeply torn man. His story--told in alternating, sometimes intentional confused narrative strands--unearths the racist and race-obsessed psyche of an unlovable, but deeply fascinating man. The ending is remarkable perfect--it ...more
Jan 11, 2008 Ruth rated it really liked it
I am a sucker for spin-offs & this one is really riveting. The story folds into the real Huck Finn story, and the character of pap Finn is so appalling and sad at the same time- I wouldn't say you end up liking him by any means, but he seems human (albeit in a scary violent alcholic kind of way). It's funny that this is the second book I've read in a row that takes place in and around a mysterious body of water, but that's something else I liked, for what it's worth. The river is like a char ...more
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Born and raised in the remote heart of upstate New York, Jon Clinch has been an English teacher, a metalworker, a folksinger, an illustrator, a typeface designer, a housepainter, a copywriter, and an advertising executive.

His latest novel, The Thief of Auschwitz, arrived on January 15, 2013 on his own imprint, unmediated ink. Howard Frank Mosher, author of Walking to Gatlinburg, calls the book "th
More about Jon Clinch...

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“Under a low sun, pursued by fish and mounted by crows and veiled in a loud swarm of bluebottle flies, the body comes down the river like a deadfall stripped clean.” 6 likes
“He is between worlds, this boy. Between the river and the town, between the hogshead and the house, between the taint of his mother and the stain of his pap. He knows some things that he can never say, not even to himself.” 0 likes
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