11/30/2005: Today: arguably the most significant date in the history of American literature....
Today is the 170th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a/k/a Mark Twain. In honor of this momentous day, go read some Twain. If you can't think of anything, here's a link to one of my favorites; I consider this to be one of the two funniest short pieces Twain ever wrote: "The Awful German Language". [DISCLAIMER: one of the reasons that I think that "The Awful German Language" is so hilarious is that I studied German as my college language; that familiarity helps, I'm sure.]
The other one of the two funniest short pieces Twain ever wrote (IMHO) is "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses". So as long as we're talking (and, I hope, reading) Twain, go give that one a read. I'll be here when you get back.
And if any of this has piqued your curiosity about Twain, go scratch that itch at the Hannibal (MO) Courier-Post's Mark Twain page. As a native and long time resident of St. Louis (before my relocation to Memphis), I'm fairly familiar with Hannibal, which is a short trip north of St. Louis along the Great River Road. If you ever find yourself visiting the St. Louis area, consider making the trip to Hannibal; it's worth the time. And if you're a die-hard Twain fan, consider visiting The Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site near Florida, MO (unfortunately, the cabin was moved from its original location in the village of Florida, though a Missouri red granite monument marks the original location of the cabin on the day Twain was born). The Twain Birthplace Historic Site includes a museum devoted to Twain (the cabin is preserved within the larger museum building) which is highly informative.
Ever since I first read it, I'm convinced that The Great American Novel has already been written, and it is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. So if you're a budding novelist trying to write TGAN, just give it up (give up your pretension that you're going to write TGAN, that is; don't give up on your novel. It doesn't have to be the best ever written to be worth writing).
Len on 11.30.05 @ 07:16 AM CST