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Twain: Letters from Hawaii


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About the Author

A. Grove Day was a leading authority on the literature of the Pacific.


Hearing Layne read Mark Twain's newspaper dispatches from Hawaii gives one the invigorating sense of visiting an exotic locale as well as a different era. Those who treat themselves to these blustery, spirited letters will experience a journey in every sense of the word. Before writing his first novel, the penniless journalist got a four-month-long gig writing about his travels in the "the loveliest fleet of islands that lie anchor in any ocean." Layne reads the letters as Twain might have, not backing down during parts that may sound questionable to modern ears (e.g., Twain's repeated congratulations to the missionaries for quashing native customs). In this thoughtfully abridged collection, one letter may rhapsodize about scenery while the next delves into death rituals for a native princess; the result is a listening experience that feels balanced, not overdone. Though few people other than lovers of Hawaii will likely tune in to these letters, those who do will never see their favorite vacation spot (or home) in quite the same way again. They will also receive a reminder of why Twain's legacy has endured. Based on the Univ. of Hawaii Press paperback. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Provides a fresh, funny portrait of Mark Twain as a young man.-- "Time"
An amalgam of workaday journalism, whimsy, shrewd and poetic observation, accurate commercial prophecy, character assassination, and tongue-in-cheek tall tales.-- "Times Literary Supplement"
The unmistakable touch of his comic genius can be seen, that sly alternation of hyperbole an deadpan understatement in a blend that can only be Twain.-- "Wall Street Journal"
Twain's powers of observation and description are unsurpassed and we get a vivid picture of the life and scenery of these lovely islands. Fascinating descriptions of old Hawaiian customs, a funeral in the Royal Family, a session of the Legislature, the contribution of the missionaries, and the character of the native Hawaiian leadership make this book difficult to put down.-- "Saturday Review"

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