Any time is a good time for a new Mark Twain memoir, but especially now. For one thing, Twain, who died in 1910, told the world to let him be dead 100 years before we could read his life story. For another, this Autobiography of Mark Twain, put out in three volumes beginning this month, bears quite a contemporary sheen: Its fragmentary, nonchronological, metanarrative structure comes from having been orally dictated by the authors own digressive whim. Of course Twains whims tended to be discerning, and his digressions substantive. His opinions on such matters as God, American foreign policy, and first-world capitalism ― when fully revealed in all their coruscating and vitriolic glory ― might be useful to discussions on those subjects today. Twain was generous with his attention, even as it brought him to spectacularly uncharitable conclusions. And so he remains a model of literary endurance: the outspoken opponent of indifference. Litquakes Mark Twain Ball serves as the books launch party. Included are period music and cocktails, as well as professional Twain impersonators; amateurs are encouraged.
Thu., Nov. 4, 7 p.m., 2010