Wednesday, April 21, 2010
When we were ages three to six, my dad read us a bedtime story every night. But we didn’t waddle with the likes of Puddle Duck or Winnie the Pooh, we jumped head-first into American literature – Steinbeck, Jack London, and best of all, Mark Twain.
My dad had no time for baby stories. He wanted to understand the country he had chosen, so he learned as we learned. And every night, at the end of the chapter, we’d shout “More! More!” tucked in a warm bed while listening to Huck wax philosophical in a Scandinavian accent. Dad was discovering America, we were discovering words. And all Dad’s kids became writers, in one capacity or another.
Mark Twain died a hundred years ago today.
Good night, sweet ornery princes, the both of you.
Mark Twain, on writing:
God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention … You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.
- Letter to Orion Clemens, 3/23/1878
I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English--it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them--then the rest will be valuable.
I conceive that the right way to write a story for boys is to write so that it will not only interest boys but strongly interest any man who has ever been a boy.
- Letter to Fred J. Hall, 10 Aug 1892
One gets large impressions in boyhood, sometimes, which he has to fight against all his life.
- The Innocents Abroad