Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Source: LibriVox (zipped mp3s)
Length: 10 hours
Reader: John Greenman

The book: When I read this book in high school, I remember it being good for the about the first two-thirds of the book, then interminably boring for the last third. Now that I've read several books by Mark Twain, I can recognize a pattern in his books. Twain often starts his books with a great premise. He strings together some amusing anecdotes with very little overarching plot, but with often hilarious characters. As the book goes along, though, Twain tends to grow bitter towards his own characters and the tone turns from gentle humor to a darker misanthropy.

Huck Finn follows this pattern in that the opening chapters are filled with great episodes, like the formation of Tom Sawyer's gang, Huck dressing up as a girl, and Huck's stay with the Grangerfords. Later, after the Duke and the King join Huck and Jim on the raft, the writing turns more mean-spirited. Instead of innocent pranks, the characters are now involved in more harmful swindles, culminating in the two con-men betraying Jim. The rest of the book portrays Jim more as a racist stereotype and the adventures lose the fun quality that they had at the beginning. These final chapters mar the book's reputation and brought my personal enjoyment of the book down.

Rating: 7/10

The reader: John Greenman is a great narrator of Mark Twain. Greenman has the ability to bring out the Midwestern tone of Twain's writing. He delivers the humor without overselling it and has a light breezy style of speech that reflects the conversational style of the book. For more of Greenman's excellent narration, check out his work in Tom Sawyer.


hopeinbrazil said...

I've been meaning to read this for ages. Thanks for the interesting review.

Listener said...

Glad you enjoyed the review. This is a great novel, but don't feel like you HAVE to finish it - it's almost universally acknowledged that the quality drops off in the last part of the book.