Saturday, June 13, 2009

Book Review: The Trouble Begins at 8 by Sid Fleischman

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild Westis a humorous biography of Samuel Clemens' early years spent in Nevada and California. Clemens formative years were spent working as a printing apprentice, a steamboat pilot, a gold digger, a newspaper man, and a traveling correspondent before ever publishing under his famous pseudonym.

Fleischman is the perfect biographer for Twain's humorous view on life. The way Fleischman writes is brilliant - his phrases are hilarious and make the simplest details interesting. Twain had such an awesome sense of humor and coined about a million one-liner phrases that I wanted to quote. This is the perfect book for kids who need to do a report but loathe reading boring biographies. This is such an interesting story that I recommend it to anyone who is interested in Twain or just wants to read a funny book.

A sample of Fleischman's awesome writing:

"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." p. 6

And a favorite Twain one-liner:

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." qtd p. 172

Such a unique book, I would stick with stuff by Twain and Fleischman:
I recently enjoyed A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and the classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finnwhich has a lot of autobiographical elements from Twain's childhood
Also I enjoyed The Whipping Boyby Sid Fleischman

s-factor: !

Twain tended to use some mild cuss words.

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

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