Monday, August 10, 2009
Huck Finning It...But With A Map
"We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft." - Mark Twain, "Huckleberry Finn" 1884.
Mark Twain is often cited as the greatest American writer of all time and to some degree, I truly believe that he has more than earned his distinction. Sure, there are many great American writers who deserve their nod, but Mr. Twain was the first to define the American experience and defend our way of life on the world stage.
I can cite "Huckleberry Finn" as being a major influence on me in regards to wanting to be a writer from a young age. Here is the story of a uneducated, backwoods youth (much like myself) who sets off on one of the greatest adventures ever committed to paper and he tells the story, not in the high prose of the day, but in the way people really spoke, much like a tale told around the campfire or the wood stove in the general store. To me, this was a revelation. I can never thank Mr. Twain enough for teaching me that even country bumpkins can tell a respectable tale and be recognized for their effort and contribution to some of the world's greatest lit.
But now it is my turn to try my hand at it. Not only is this hillbilly going on a long canoe trip, but he is going to write a book about it. I can't imagine that it will enjoy the success of Mr. Twain's opus, but one has to try.
Sure, Huck Finn went down the mighty Missisip on a raft and took a negro with him, but have you ever tried to steer a raft? A raft steers in much the same way as the bumper cars at the state fair, meaning it will answer the wheel/rudder one time in ten. I made an honest effort to find a negro who would be willing to take this trip with me, but in the end, I had to settle for a swarthy Italian with an Irish name as none of the brother's I knew would sign up for this kind of foolishness. So be it.
My partner goes by the name of Err and he is the sort of fellow that you would want on any adventure, be it canoe trip, visit to Mars, a hearing before Congress, or an evening spent in pub crawling and bordellos. I trust him implicitly. He has been kind enough to provide a map of our intended journey. It can be found here.
Wish me luck and I'll keep you informed,