Monday, January 17, 2011

Humorous Stories and Sketches by Mark Twain

This is a collection of some of Mark Twain's short stories.  Until I got it in for school last year, I didn't know that he wrote short stories.  And I wasn't exactly looking forward to reading this - I'm not a big short story fan.  It has to be really really really good.  However, when I started it, I was pleasantly surprised and found that I enjoyed most of the stories.  Some I won't read again...Twain has never been a favorite author...but others were great and I'd love to read them at least once more.

The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

 The narrator asks a man named Simon Wheeler whether or not he could give him any information on a man named Reverend Leonidas W. Smiley; all he gets in return is a meaningless story about an inherent gambler named Jim Smiley who had a frog.

Journalism in Tennessee

A hilarious account of a journalist who moves to the south for the climate, and discovers that where he is working can be of no possible help to his health due to the ridiculous and humorous amount of violence that goes on between the journalists.  (One of my made me laugh sooooo hard!  Totally unrealistic in the best of ways.)

About Barbers

The narrator gives the story of what happens every single time he goes to the barbers', and the extremely bad luck he has in getting a good shave.  (Another favorite...highly reommended.)

A Literary Nightmare

What happens when you read an extremely catchy tune and find it stuck in your head for a couple days?  The narrator of this story knows exactly the answer to that question - and only he knows the key to ridding yourself of the rhyme before it ruins your life forever.  (The other favorite.  LOVED this one.)

The Stolen White Elephant

The story of a man who was put in charge of Siam's White Elephant - and what happens when the elephant is stolen!  A  funny story of how one event leads to the other, and the detectives who tried to trace the elephant and what happened to them.

The Private History of a Campaign that Failed

This story is exactly what title describes:  A funny tale of some soldiers who fail miserably at war in general.

Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences

Twain's reasons to why Fenimore Cooper is not a good writer; he lists all the mistakes that Cooper makes in his works.

How to Tell a Story

Twain's thoughts and instructions on how to write a humorous story.

My favorite quote of this collection of stories is actually not from one of my favorites.  It's from How to Tell a Story.  "There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind - the humorous.  I will talk mainly about that one.  The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, and the witty story is French.  The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter."  (Page 70)  That statement is so true and puts a spin on the way you tell stories or write them - just had to share!

Anyways...  This was a great collection.  I wasn't expecting to enjoy it, but I was blessed with some great short stories.  Definitely read my three favorites, if anything.  (You can probably find them for free online.)  :)

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