Rach's Reviews > Autobiography, Vol. 1

Autobiography, Vol. 1 by Mark Twain
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Oct 07, 11

bookshelves: memoir, non-fiction, challenge-11-fall, epically-long, 2011
Read from August 30 to October 07, 2011

I can absolutely, without a doubt, recommend that if you want to read this book, do not grab the audiobook to listen to. Or if you do, start at about disc 7 or 8, when the massive introduction is finally over. While some of this information is valuable and interesting, especially to those who might be researching Twain and his life, it's place is not at the front of the book, where it might drive readers away, but at the end, where people can more easily choose to read it (listen to it) or not. Also unnecessary are the numerous false starts Twain made on this "autobiography" - if it was something he decided not to include, then why was it included anyways?

When I actually got to Twain's intended autobiographical works, most of them were quite interesting and entertaining. I loved the excerpts from his young daughter Suzy's biography of him and his comments on her writings, the stories of him growing up, and even some of the publishing stories. I also quite enjoyed his sketches of President Grant, especially as he neared the end of his life. I never realized how sad Grant's story is, and it definitely made me interested in looking up his own autobiography.

There are both positives and negatives to the way this book was organized. Twain specifically mentions several times that he wanted his autobiography to be more stream-of-consciousness than linear or thematic. The positive of this style of writing is that it really felt like I was sitting next to Twain, hearing him tell his stories directly to me. The negative, however, is that the stories end up jumping so much back and forth that it's hard to remember what you've heard and what you haven't, and to follow along with connections you should have been making. I feel like there was a happy medium that could have been reached, where the book was organized in some way without losing that storytelling feel, but I understand why the editors left it as it is.

I do plan on picking up the next volume when it's available, because I do enjoy Twain's style of speech and want to learn more about his life, but I definitely will be looking for a hard copy instead of the audio, so I can avoid any extraneous introduction next time.
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Reading Progress

09/01/2011 page 38
5.0%
09/16/2011 page 301
41.0% "I've FINALLY gotten to the actual autobiography. Sheesh!"
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