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LitEditor
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Join us in March

[ Edited ]
Hello everyone!

This is bound to be an exciting book club. Our conversation will take on two equally fascinating works. The first is an endlessly involving work of classic fiction, the book in which Mark Twain deepened and extended his tragicomic view of 19th-century America, setting his vision to the tempo of an improbably gripping adventure starring the unforgettable personality of Huckleberry Finn.

The second is a new novel of great ambition, Finn -- Jon Clinch's attempt to unpack the mystery Twain created around Huck's brutal, thwarted father. In Clinch's startlingly vivid re-imagination of this man, we discover a darkly complex character: violent, alcoholic, racist, goaded by his rancorous relationship with his father The Judge and his equally fractured relationship with his own son Huck. In short, one of the most arresting and unusual literary creations to appear in some time. The themes at the heart of Finn are universal: race, paternity, the stain of slavery of a nation and a family, what we take from our parents, what we give to our sons, and our own limitless power to self-destruct.

We're privileged to have Jon Clinch join us, beginning March 5th, to discuss his work alongside Twain's masterpiece, and to talk about how his fictional response to the original came to be. So, get ready to jump aboard for what is sure to be an adventure in reading.

See you soon!

Message Edited by LitEditor on 02-22-2007 12:50 AM


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JesseBC
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Re: Join us in March

Will the discussion of the two books be merged? Or is it possible to join the discussion of one or the other? I'm interested in Huck Finn, but not really in the other one.
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matriarchy
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Re: Join us in March

Perfect! I was meaning to reread Huck and then buy Finn. My challenge now is to get both books in time. Is this the sort of discussion where you read as you go, or do I need to have both boooks read by March?
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FPLindsey
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Jumping in

Perfect since when I read the book review I knew I had to read "Huckleberry Finn"! Never read it before since I wasn't crazy about "Tom Sawyer" - I think Finn and Huckleberry Finn will be more my taste.

Fran
Bristow, VA
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DAZMON
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Re: Join us in March

Am looking forward to this discussion.
Tuti Wells

"What if all the great stories have ever moved you, brought you tears - what if they are telling yu something about the true Story into which you were born, the Epic into which you have been cast? " Jon E.
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LitEditor
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Re: Join us in March

JesseBC, re your message regarding Huckleberry Finn and Finn -- we'll be discussing both books; there will be more emphasis on Twain's novel in the first part of the month, and more emphasis on Jon Clinch's wonderful new treatment of Huck's mysterious father as the month progresses. You'll be able to participate in whatever parts of the conversation interest you.

That said, I hope that you'll take a look at Finn -- it's a fascinating take on Twain, which more than rises to the occasion. Jon Clinch has, as you can imagine, a lot of insight about Twain's novel to share with us, as well as the ability to speak to his own work.

Glad to see such early interest in this group!

Bill
Lit. and Fiction Editor, B&N Book Clubs

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bentley
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Re: Join us in March

Will join as I have time..sounds interesting. Thanks for the heads up.
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E_Darcy
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Re: Join us in March

You probably answered this question already...(and if you did, sorry for asking it again).

Which of the two will we be discussing first? I would like to get a jumpstart on my reading.
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bentley
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Re: Join us in March

You did answer this; but want to make sure that I understood correctly..if you are only interested in the Huck Finn read...you are not obligated to the other segment...correct.

Thanks Bill
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JesseBC
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Re: Join us in March

I just don't like deriviative stuff as a general rule. Besides, it'll probably take me at least a month just to read one of the books, let alone two.





LitEditor wrote:
JesseBC, re your message regarding Huckleberry Finn and Finn -- we'll be discussing both books; there will be more emphasis on Twain's novel in the first part of the month, and more emphasis on Jon Clinch's wonderful new treatment of Huck's mysterious father as the month progresses. You'll be able to participate in whatever parts of the conversation interest you.

That said, I hope that you'll take a look at Finn -- it's a fascinating take on Twain, which more than rises to the occasion. Jon Clinch has, as you can imagine, a lot of insight about Twain's novel to share with us, as well as the ability to speak to his own work.

Glad to see such early interest in this group!

Bill
Lit. and Fiction Editor, B&N Book Clubs


BN Editor
LitEditor
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Re: Join us in March

Just to clarify: our conversation won't be divided into formal "segments." We're discussing both Huckleberry Finn and Finn -- although most of the discussion will be on Twain's book during the first couple of weeks, and more on Jon Clinch's Finn in the latter part of the month; a natural ordering, since the second novel grows out of the first; and many here will just be reading Finn as we get started.

As with any of our book clubs, everyone is more than welcome to participate as much or as little as they like. I hope to see everyone here throughout March, as I think this is going to be a particularly fascinating conversation.

Bill
Lit. and Fiction Editor, Barnes & Noble Book Clubs


bentley wrote:
You did answer this; but want to make sure that I understood correctly..if you are only interested in the Huck Finn read...you are not obligated to the other segment...correct.

Thanks Bill


See the latest news about book clubs in the Book Clubs Blog.
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JesseBC
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Re: Join us in March

Since BNU has switched to these forums, I think it'll be fairly easy for those reading one book or the other to figure out which folders we want. Unless you're planning on designating ALL the folders for discussion of both books, we can just pick the folders for whichever book we're reading.





LitEditor wrote:
Just to clarify: our conversation won't be divided into formal "segments." We're discussing both Huckleberry Finn and Finn -- although most of the discussion will be on Twain's book during the first couple of weeks, and more on Jon Clinch's Finn in the latter part of the month; a natural ordering, since the second novel grows out of the first; and many here will just be reading Finn as we get started.

As with any of our book clubs, everyone is more than welcome to participate as much or as little as they like. I hope to see everyone here throughout March, as I think this is going to be a particularly fascinating conversation.

Bill
Lit. and Fiction Editor, Barnes & Noble Book Clubs


bentley wrote:
You did answer this; but want to make sure that I understood correctly..if you are only interested in the Huck Finn read...you are not obligated to the other segment...correct.

Thanks Bill




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Re: Join us in March



JesseBC wrote:
I just don't like deriviative stuff as a general rule. Besides, it'll probably take me at least a month just to read one of the books, let alone two.







Good point, one of those times one could have a longer period of time to work with.

ziki
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JesseBC
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Re: Join us in March

Since a lot of contemporary fiction is derivative, I should probably clarify that specifically what I don't like is modern writers who mess with the classics -- even when their efforts have been very good. I didn't like Susan Hill's sequel to Rebecca. Or Jean Rhys prequel to Jane Eyre.

Hill, especially, is a very accomplished novelist. But taking the classic out of its original context just never seems to work for me.




ziki wrote:


JesseBC wrote:
I just don't like deriviative stuff as a general rule. Besides, it'll probably take me at least a month just to read one of the books, let alone two.







Good point, one of those times one could have a longer period of time to work with.

ziki



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fanuzzir
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Re: Join us in March



JesseBC wrote:
I didn't like Susan Hill's sequel to Rebecca. Or Jean Rhys prequel to Jane Eyre.



Jesse! Not like Wide Sargasso Sea? To me it surpasses, or at least completes the original. So I'm wide open to creative rereadings. Like WSS, Finn is not competing--it develops what we in the I want to be a scriptwriter trade call the "backstory," and makes the flight of the main character in the original that much more urgent.
Bob
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JesseBC
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Re: Join us in March

Yeah, I know...literary heresy. But Bertha was a product of the 19th century, not of 1960s deconstructionism. It's totally out of context.

And it has nothing to do with the talents of the prequel/sequel writer. That's why I used Hill as an example because, other than Mrs. DeWinter, I really like her.

Contemporary readers already have a hard enough time not imposing a modern interpretation onto the originals (my favorite example is when someone in BNU's previous incarnation decided that Helen Burns was ADHD). Modern sequels just make this worse because you can never go back and un-know this extraneous storyline that never had any relevance to the original.

With all due respect to present company, Pap doesn't *have* a backstory -- that was part of the point. He was a product of Twain's world, not ours.





fanuzzir wrote:


JesseBC wrote:
I didn't like Susan Hill's sequel to Rebecca. Or Jean Rhys prequel to Jane Eyre.



Jesse! Not like Wide Sargasso Sea? To me it surpasses, or at least completes the original. So I'm wide open to creative rereadings. Like WSS, Finn is not competing--it develops what we in the I want to be a scriptwriter trade call the "backstory," and makes the flight of the main character in the original that much more urgent.
Bob



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jonclinch
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Re: Join us in March

True, true, JesseB. Absolutely. "Pap," the character, is fully contained in Twain's work, and that's that.

Yet as readers we may surely long to know more about him, and as writers we may desire to return to those famliar Mississippi banks and turn over some rocks to discover what might be wrigging about underneath.

And to be very clear -- Finn does not extend Huckleberry Finn in one chronological direction or another. It's overlaid upon it and interlocked with it, and yet the two novels are also, in the end, fully independent of one another. That'll probably prove worth talking about by the time we're through.

-- Jon


JesseBC wrote:
With all due respect to present company, Pap doesn't *have* a backstory -- that was part of the point. He was a product of Twain's world, not ours.

-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
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fanuzzir
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Re: Join us in March



jonclinch wrote:
True, true, JesseB. Absolutely. "Pap," the character, is fully contained in Twain's work, and that's that.

Yet as readers we may surely long to know more about him, and as writers we may desire to return to those famliar Mississippi banks and turn over some rocks to discover what might be wrigging about underneath.

And to be very clear -- Finn does not extend Huckleberry Finn in one chronological direction or another. It's overlaid upon it and interlocked with it, and yet the two novels are also, in the end, fully independent of one another. That'll probably prove worth talking about by the time we're through.

-- Jon


JesseBC wrote:
With all due respect to present company, Pap doesn't *have* a backstory -- that was part of the point. He was a product of Twain's world, not ours.




I disagree! If you believe that a literary character who is underdeveloped in a novel is inaccessible to us because he belongs to the author's time and imagined place, then you are saying we are forbidden from knowing about that author or his time. That is what history and historical fiction is for--to repair the gaps of time with good solid inference and investigation. In the case of Finn, Jon is on the firmest of grounds for undertaking an excavation of Pap, since he is arguably the most historically recognizable character in the setting of the novel, the old slaveholding south of the 1840s, or in Twain's world, the resurgent KKK south of the 1880s. He is a product of Jacksonian America, and the experiment to uplift the poorest of its white people by giving them the thing--the vote--that blacks of any class or legal condition did not have. Jon would have found it much more treacherous to try to recreate Huck's backstory, as he is actually Twain's most original creation (the model for the child hero was Jo March in Little Women and Little Eva in Uncle Tom's Cabin). Others have tried to do so at their peril, such as the scholar who asked, "Was Huck Black?" But that's a question for another day.

Bertha/Antoinette of Wide Sargasso Sea was a creation of 1960s post-colonial theory, not deconstruction.
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Jon's mission dismissed



JesseBC wrote: what I don't like is modern writers who mess with the classics -- even when their efforts have been very good.



Do you hear Jon? What say you?

ziki
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jonclinch
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Re: Jon's mission dismissed

Without stooping to defend my own work, I've got to say that serious, high-literary projects of this type have proven themselves worthy again and again. John Gardner's Grendel, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Geraldine Brooks' March, Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea.


ziki wrote:


JesseBC wrote: what I don't like is modern writers who mess with the classics -- even when their efforts have been very good.


Do you hear Jon? What say you?

ziki

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