Michael Clemens's Reviews > Roughing It

Roughing It by Mark Twain
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Mar 06, 2012

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Read from March 06 to April 27, 2012

Very obviously an early work, and a patchwork of Twain's experiences as he opted to mostly miss the Civil War by traveling into the then-territorial west of North America. This is very much a patchwork, and a long one at that: personal recollections are interwoven with tall tales, and occasionally peppered with some political incorrectness that's uncomfortable to read in these supposedly more enlightened days. The Mormon church and native Hawaiians bear the brunt of this, and Twain was not yet a refined enough writer (or person?) to let it move into parody: it just feels mean.

Still, Twain's embellishing touch is evident, and you can see the celebrated writer through the awkward passages. His travels by stagecoach are particularly enjoyable, and since I live in the area, I was personally pleased to read his impressions and recollections life in of Lake Tahoe and a young San Francisco, including experiencing a destructive earthquake. Like his silver-mining adventures, there are many worthy, entertaining parts to this book, but you must chip through some lesser material to get to it. The edition I read from Project Gutenberg appears to be a full one, including a number of appendices.
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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I like your review, but I can't refrain from making one nit-picking comment, viz: that the Great Earthquake in "Roughing It" was the earthquake of 1865, not 1906. Twain was still alive in 1906, but I don't think he was in San Francisco. And "Roughing It" was published in 1872.
By the way: are you related to the author?

Michael Clemens Ah, you're surely right, Bob. I didn't think the timeline matched up, but Twain was never one to allow facts to muddy a good story. :-) I've modified my review.

I think all Clemens' would like to claim relationship with Mr. Twain. Family legend has it that he's a distant cousin of some sort, but there's no clear line that I'm aware of.

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