Thursday, May 8, 2014

My favorite quotes from The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleischman

Mark Twain is by far my favorite canonical author of American literature. Or just literature in general. He is so incredibly quotable and subverts the status quo, which makes his larger-than-life persona a biographer's dream. To this day, my favorite quote of all time is a Mark Twain quote from his book The Innocents Abroad, which meshes perfectly with the theme of this blog:

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

 I enjoyed this book for the most part. I did, however, think it was hard to distinguish whether this was a book for kids or adults. Yes, I found it in the juvenile section of the library, but there were many occasions where I thought to myself that this book would fare better marketed to adults than kids. There are, however, snatches of text that I would use with students either as close readings or mentor texts. So there's that.

Instead of writing a full-review, I thought I would just share some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Mark Twain was born fully grown, with a cheap cigar clamped between his teeth." (That's a way to start a story!)

"He changed literature forever. He scraped earth under its fingernails and taught it to spit. He slipped in a subversive American sense of humor. He made laughing out loud as respectable as afternoon tea." (6)

"His name went up in lights even before Edison invented the lightbulb." (161)

"He was so quotable that a critic styled him 'the American Shakespeare, only funnier.'" (174)

"When Mark Twain published [The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County] in book form, he dedicated it to John Smith. He didn't know any of the multitude of John Smiths at large. His playful theory was that anyone to whom a book is dedicated would go out and buy a copy." (181)

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleischman 
Published: July 28, 2009
Publisher: Greenwillow
Pages: 224
Genre: biography
Audience: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Disclosure: Library Copy

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