Reply
Frequent Contributor
ELee
Posts: 418
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Questions for Jon

Jon,

What was it about your experience(s) with "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" that got under your skin and caused that "itch" that became "Finn"?
Author
jonclinch
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

Finn took root from chapter nine of The Adventures, with the house that Huck and Jim found afloat on the Mississippi, bearing a corpse whose identity would remain a mystery until the end of the book. I'd never forgotten the scene. And when I returned to it as an adult, it seemed to have grown even creepier 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—would not permit me to dismiss these details as mere meaningless throwaways. And so I began.

For me, Finn himself was definitely the most intriguing aspect of The Adventures. When I first read the book as a child, he leapt from the pages as completely at variance with an individual I knew in real life. In some sense he was my introduction to racism, alcoholism, and child abuse — things I didn't get at home. So I wanted to figure out where those traits came from, too.



ELee wrote:
Jon,

What was it about your experience(s) with "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" that got under your skin and caused that "itch" that became "Finn"?

-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
Frequent Contributor
fanuzzir
Posts: 1,014
Registered: ‎10-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

I'll chime in and say that Jim, with all his good intentions, is the one who throws a blanket over the body of Finn, so to speak, in the interest of Huck's sensibility, and you've done right to take that blanket off again. It's going against just one character's motivation, mind you, the best of characters and the most sympathetic, but just a character all the same.
jd
Frequent Contributor
jd
Posts: 326
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

Jon - in your book Finn is consistent. He is always evil and contrary and a mean drunkard, yet everyone else is constantly changing. The contrast of Finn on the river and not changing while the river is constantly changing and bringing forth Huck and Jim and others who are also changing is striking. Finn is the constant and all else revolves around him, which I guess is why you named the book after him????? - jd
Author
jonclinch
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

Your suggestion is certainly a good one, and it's definitely part of the truth.

Other reasons for the name include...

1) It suggests the principle that I carry out in the text, calling him only by that one name as if he's some force of nature.

2) It refers, at least in my mind, to John Gardner's similarly-named Grendel, which you might consider one of the models or inspirations or floorplans for my book.

3) It has a flat, abrupt kind of tone, which echoes the speech in the novel.

4) It cuts "Huckleberry Finn," a name that's become kind of monolithic in our minds, into two pieces and sets the stage for not only examining the genesis of Huck's first name but for cutting his history in two as well...



jd wrote:
Jon - in your book Finn is consistent. He is always evil and contrary and a mean drunkard, yet everyone else is constantly changing. The contrast of Finn on the river and not changing while the river is constantly changing and bringing forth Huck and Jim and others who are also changing is striking. Finn is the constant and all else revolves around him, which I guess is why you named the book after him????? - jd

-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
Frequent Contributor
ELee
Posts: 418
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

In the "Huck as an "orphan": Chapters 1-4" thread

jonclinch wrote:

"For a great many people, The Adventures has enormous southern connections; on tour, in fact, I've been asked more than once how a Yankee could dare handle this material. Huck's strong southern associations were among of the reasons I gave Finn so many scenes set in cold and wintry weather."

Jon,

In light of your comment above, and in order to present your work in the way you envisioned, what kind of research did you feel compelled to do?
Author
jonclinch
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

Got your question, ELee, and will do my best to get back to it later today. I'm on the West Coast mid-tour, and on the move...
-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
Author
jonclinch
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

Since my goal was to bring to life the period as Twain gave it to us, much of my research was confined to his work -- not just Huck and Tom; but Life on the Mississippi and his wonderful Autobiography.

I also consulted many and various works of relevant history, of course.

What I didn't do was worry overmuch about geography. I did my best to recreate Twain's St. Petersburg (Hannibal) on the Missouri side of the river, and then gave myself free rein to invent my own Lasseter on the Illinois side. So don't go looking for it...


ELee wrote:
Jon,

In light of your comment above, and in order to present your work in the way you envisioned, what kind of research did you feel compelled to do?

-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

Hi Jon,
I read your BN interview and both this book and your coming book seem to in some way pick up the theme father and son. You also said you have a daughter.
What fascinates you about father & son relationship so that you picked up that as a theme?

ziki
Frequent Contributor
ELee
Posts: 418
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

Jon,

Where did the character Whittier come from? What influenced you in his creation? He is an interesting character, notably more than the "puzzle piece" with a wooden leg...
Author
jonclinch
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

I'm home for something like eleven hours -- eight of which I hope to devote to sleep -- so I won't be answering for a bit. But count on me...fair questions both...I'll be back...
-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
Author
jonclinch
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

I think he probably represents another doomed encounter by Finn with sophisticated Eastern society, even a corrupt version thereof. To tell you the truth, he didn't even HAVE the wooden leg until my last pass through the text...

Anybody notice that the last time Finn speaks his name he calls him "Whittington?"

-- J



ELee wrote:
Jon,

Where did the character Whittier come from? What influenced you in his creation? He is an interesting character, notably more than the "puzzle piece" with a wooden leg...


-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

There's no hurry. You take it all in your own pace. I am not doing my reading quick enough either.
Thanks Jon for being here.

ziki
Contributor
khia213
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎03-19-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

I'm recommending the book for our reading group on Saturday. I'd really like suggestions from you and the people here on discussion questions. If it's accepted, and I really hope it will, I'll report back on the discussion results.
Author
jonclinch
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

Hey, Khia --

Check out the Teacher's Guide at the www.readfinn.com website. Click on Activities, and then on Teacher's Guide. There's a nice, printable PDF.

It should give you everything you need and more.

There are also some interesting questions under "Teacher's Resources."

-- J
-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
Contributor
khia213
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎03-19-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

Thanks much! As the author, is there any one discussion/question you would like to hear about?
Author
jonclinch
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

I love 'em all.

Whatever turns folks on the most, how about?

-- J
-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
Contributor
khia213
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎03-19-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

My reading group unanimously agreed to read Finn as next month's selection. I hope you're still available on this board in a few weeks, because they're going to start forwarding questions for you.
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

available ?

Hi Jon,
with certain changes in the BN set up this discussion landed in nowhere. I have a suggestion: perhaps when your tour is over and you have more time available, you let us know and we can continue the cyber talk. I for one still read Twain's Huck and now albeit BN thinks they can do without Bob F., our moderator, which is kinda unfortunate if you ask me, we still have a given frame here and we could continue. A couple of us perhaps endure....


ziki
still interested
Author
jonclinch
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for Jon

Khia and Ziki --

Feel free to drop me a note at jonclinch@gmail.com.

I sure won't leave you hanging...

-- J
-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
Users Online
Currently online:47 members 437 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: