Sunday, May 11, 2008

Book Review: Finn

by Eric Green

Finn In the Time of the Year 2008 Elections

Summer Reading: "Finn" by Jon Clinch
Random House Trade Paperback, $14.00

This won't be a long book review. It would have been a long one had I read the original Mark Twain's, Huckleberry Finn, but I didn't. With the Tom Sawyer books, these were often considered the first novels in this country.

In fact, when I starting reading Finn I had to keep my eyes to the page/grind stone; and, I am very happy I did. I generally don't like reading deep regional dialects and these related words that accompany such dialects from the deep South, especially during that time period. But, this book is very different. Maybe, I should revisit Mark Twain. After all this year 2008 elections certainly deals with many of the same themes.

The writer, Jon Clinch is able to transport the reader back in time into a Southern era among working class people where life was raw and unforgiving. The human emotions of love and hate couple with the raw reality of racism, slavery and gender jumps out at you….page after page after page. The often confusion that surrounds these emotions and cultural issues morphs together around characters as drawn by Clinch in an amazing manner.

Clinch fashions a novel around the early years of Huck Finn through the life and times of his father simply referred mostly to as just, "Finn." You learn a lot about the Black women whom Clinch has made his mother. This is a truly remarkable woman. Finn on the other hand is not a sympathetic person, on the contrary, you want to reach in to the book and ring his alcoholic, racist and anti-woman neck. But, he was Huck Finn's father, at least, in this book.

In the book's epilogue, Clinch provides the reader some insights into previous literary assertions in regard to the possibility that Huck Finn was the son of a Black mother and a white father.

The raw and forthright writing of Finn reminds one of Cormac McCarthy novels; Jeanette Walls', "The Glass Castle;" and the Pulitzer Price winning novel by Juno Diaz, "The Short Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao."

Get this book for your summer reading, you won't be disappointed.

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