All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.”

Ernest Hemingway

The majority of Mother’s Day was spent reading Huckleberry Finn, something I hadn’t read since high school and mostly forgot. I wonder at its being foisted upon high schoolers. The adolescent is the last person to appreciate Mark Twain because, though he is given ample opportunities to laugh at himself, he rarely takes advantage of them. Anyone who takes himself too seriously — which is the definition of adolescence — has no business reading Mark Twain. Children would do better. In their humble state, they would have the sense to enjoy it without skepticism, judgment, or rallying to a cause. They would revel in the ridiculous without feeling better about themselves. They would intuit its message without moralizing.

For adults, the older the better. I wager that every few years presents us with enough absurdities, inconsistencies, and general wickedness that to read Huckleberry again would reward us with an array of new delights.

As a writer, there is more to gain. It is summed up in the words of the master of whom we speak. Who am I to attempt improvement?

Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.

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