Randy's Reviews > The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
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Mar 13, 08

bookshelves: fiction
Read in February, 2000

For a book that's supposedly the source of "all modern American literature," there's a lot you can pick on. Like the careening plot, or the last ten chapters of the book (which is kind of like eating Sour Patch Kids after a chocolate souffle). I can just see Mark Twain paging anxiously through the first thirty-one chapters and muttering, "I can't take any more of this literary merit--if I don't bring in Tom Sawyer to screw things up, I'm going to have a freaking aneurysm."

In the end, though, this book is saved by two things. (1) Huck is simply one of the best characters ever created. (2) The unvarnished look at the antebellum Midwest and South, with scathing satire, is staggering. Even with the last fourth of the book being pretty much reduced to a relapse of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, it's still makes my top ten.

There is that whole thing about the explicit language, which has a lot more to do with the nearsightedness of social debates than any substantive dispute. One group offers flat arguments about literary merit while climbing over themselves to belittle other people's emotional trauma; the other group imagines that something so personally painful can't provide any positive service to any other member of society. Can we not just accept differences of effect and let the kids whose parents want to protect them read Native Son instead? No? Sorry, I can't hear you over the shouting.
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