My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I don’t know why I’ve had “reviewer’s block” so much lately, but I have. I’ve got a couple of other books that I’ve finished and need to review but … So I try the Reader’s Block trick of reading an old favorite, or one of a series. Is this dated? Oh, is that and understatement? The short-lived 1970s subcultures pop out here. (He also has Sam drinking “at least a fifth of ethyl alcohol mixed with fruit juice.” – a measure long gone out of vogue.) Cliched? Well, sort of goes with he dated part. But it is still quite imaginative. And a mix of writing skill.
When recounting a story within the story of a boat traveling upRiver, Farmer says of the narrowing of the River, “[n}ow and then, the line of mountains curved in toward each other, and the boat shot through canyons where the narrow passage forced the current to boil through…” So, tacking against the current and wind, the boat “shot” through?
And then he has Sam Clemens say a brilliant thing now and the: “Of course, I’m only indulging in mankind’s vice of trying to make a symbol out of coincidence” (Note to self: see if that shows up in any of Clemens’s writings…stories or memoirs.)
And astute observation, also maybe the real Clemens wrote about: when recalling the Chinese of Nevada and California in the early 1860s, Farmer had Clemens thinking “But the Chinese believed in time; time was the Chinese ally.” So true today (Martin Jacques wrote a book titled “When China Rules the World” and observes the same patience, in contrast to the Western immediacy.)
And on human nature: “Invincible ignorance always upset him [Clemens], even though he knew he should just laugh at it.”
I need to get to the other reviews, and finish a couple in progress before moving on to a reread of the third book. Sure. That’s what I’ll tell myself!