2010: 68. Tales, Speeches, Essays and Sketches

“Stormfield, Christmas Eve, 11 A.M., 1909 - Jean is dead!”

~ First Line of “The Death of Jean”

Tales, Speeches, Essays, and Sketches, Mark Twain

      This is a collection of Twain ephemera - as the title suggests, it contains tales. speeches, essays, and sketches - that I have been desultorily reading for who knows how long, and finally put to bed.  It’s a mixed bag, for sure.  When I was a kid, I read and re-read Judy Jones and William Wilson’s An Incomplete Education, and one of the things they note is that Twain had absolutely no ear, and could turn out both the great American novel (that would be Huck Finn, folks) and just drecky prose with aplomb.  Having read this collection, I have to agree with that assessment.  There are some great pieces - the one on his daughter’s death, quoted above is heart wrenching and I always enjoy his takedown of James Fenimore Cooper - and some real clunckers.  Which is probably why it took me about two years to finally plow through the whole collection, but if you like Twain and are willing to sift through the chaff to get the wheat, it’s a reasonably good read - though you might be better off with a collection that was a little more edited.  

Categories:  Essays

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017