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jonclinch
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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Happy To Be Here

Hey, everybody --

I'm back from my protracted adventure in Toronto, and I'll be home for two days before setting out on the next leg of my tour. (Details are on my web site, in case you happen to be near any of my stops...)

So this seems like a good time to introduce myself for real.

A little bit on my beginnings: I was born and raised in upstate New York, and I've been an English teacher, a metalworker, a folksinger, an illustrator, a typeface designer, a housepainter, a copywriter, and an advertising creative. Finn is my first novel.

As for the beginnings of the book, which is more interesting and to the point, it's always seemed to me that a great work of literature has a way of developing a personal relationship with its readers. So it was between The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and me. I first encountered the book as a child, perhaps no older or younger than Huck himself, and like Huck, I was appalled early on by the house that came floating down the Mississippi with a corpse in its upstairs bedroom. Other disturbing elements of Huck's world stuck with me, too—the creepy King and Duke, in particular—but none of them had half the power of that dead man in that dark and ravaged room.

When I returned to the scene as an adult, it seemed to have grown even odder and more evocative than I'd remembered. The walls, covered all over with words and pictures in charcoal. The men's and women's clothing. The wooden leg. The two black masks made of cloth. What on earth, I asked myself, did Twain mean by leaving these clues behind? What did he want to suggest to us about the life and death of Huck's brutal, alcoholic, racist father? One conventional reading is that Finn died in a brothel, but I wanted more. I wanted to understand what kind of life a man might lead that would cause him to die precisely here, in this unmoored two-story house, surrounded by this particular collection of dreadful artifacts. My respect and admiration for Twain—as a novelist, as a craftsman, as a moralist of the highest order—wouldn't permit me to dismiss these details as mere meaningless throwaways. And so I began.

Now that I'm a grown-up, Huckleberry Finn seems a whole funnier to me than it did the first time around. It also seems, in many ways, both bleaker and more hopeful. Like Twain's father, who got smarter as Twain grew older, The Adventures has changed with my every reading of it. I'm eager to join in the discussion of this magnificent book, and to put in my oar as we move on to talk about the journey it charted for me in the making of my own novel.

Thanks so much for having me.

-- Jon
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http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
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Re: Happy To Be Here

Hi, welcome, I'm happy you are there.....somewhere.

A question:

you did all those things in your life.... What happened that you sat down and started to write, please tell me more about that transition into being a writer.

ziki
Frequent Contributor
fanuzzir
Posts: 1,014
Registered: ‎10-22-2006
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Re: Happy To Be Here



jonclinch wrote:
When I returned to the scene as an adult, it seemed to have grown even odder and more evocative than I'd remembered. The walls, covered all over with words and pictures in charcoal. The men's and women's clothing. The wooden leg. The two black masks made of cloth. What on earth, I asked myself, did Twain mean by leaving these clues behind? What did he want to suggest to us about the life and death of Huck's brutal, alcoholic, racist father? .

-- Jon




Jon, you really have a cinematic style here. I can see not just Finn but the most hair-raising production details of movies like "Seven," "Silence of the Lambs," where you descend into a horrifying lair. The terrifying thing is: this is Huck's world too, the world into which he was born. And then to find him in Widow Douglas's parlor.
Author
jonclinch
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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Re: Happy To Be Here

[ Edited ]
Absolutely. The strange cinematic qualities of this scene, precisely as Twain laid them out in The Adventures, are clearly the motive force behind the tone and imagery of Finn. There's a modern sensibility and point of view about my novel that's informed not just by Twain's world but by our own. Both of which are darker than we might like to admit.

And "lair" is a good term.

Another thing: You mention Huck's presence in this awful world. True, true. And that posed certain technical challenges in the execution of the book, for Huck must have seen this room before -- only not in this condition. Another issue: There's a child's speckled straw hat on the wall. If it's not Huck's, and clearly it's not, then to whom does it belong?



fanuzzir wrote:

Jon, you really have a cinematic style here. I can see not just Finn but the most hair-raising production details of movies like "Seven," "Silence of the Lambs," where you descend into a horrifying lair. The terrifying thing is: this is Huck's world too, the world into which he was born. And then to find him in Widow Douglas's parlor.

Message Edited by jonclinch on 03-04-200711:13 AM

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http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
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chad
Posts: 1,477
Registered: ‎10-25-2006
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Book club

Sorry I couldn't make it- too busy. Let me know about upcoming book clubs for may and beyond!

Chad
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Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
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Re: Book club-Walden?

...as I said maybe we could tackle Walden in American classics.

ziki
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