Book #102: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I grew up just a few hours from Mark Twain’s stomping grounds in Hannibal, Missouri. I remember visiting the city a few times as a kid while we were on a family trip to the Ozarks. We went to the cave from Tom Sawyer (I have a story about it, but I guess I’ll save it for when I read that book), walked along the river, rode the Mark Twain steamboat, explored the bluffs and river banks around Hannibal, all the stuff. Sometimes while I was reading Huck Finn, I felt like I had an added layer of appreciation because I’ve seen where Twain was writing from and can visualize a lot of what might have influenced him.

That said, I went through a Mississippi River phase when I was a kid, where I liked reading books about people going on the ‘Mighty Mississippi.’ My grandparents took me to the locks and dams on the river, I went to a couple museums, I watched some shows about it. But somehow even though I read the kid adaptation of Tom Sawyer, I never read Huckleberry Finn.

I’ve talked before about how I hate when things are written in dialect. It doesn’t matter if it’s something like Jim’s way of talking in Huckleberry Finn or the crazy mess of “what the heck??” that was Trainspotting, I do not like it. It doesn’t really add anything to the story for me and I have trouble figuring out what characters are saying and it takes me out of the story. I knew that I was probably going to have some issues with Jim just on the dialect front, but I tried to psyche myself up for it as much as I could.

Thankfully, the dialect issue wasn’t that bad for me this time. It was annoying, but I could still enjoy the story. And, to be honest, that’s what I did. I didn’t really want to get too analytical about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I read it with the awareness that it’s really controversial and that it captures the racial tensions and issues of the society it’s portraying really well, and winds up coming up with some interesting conclusions about race, but I didn’t focus on those issues. Huck Finn was a great adventure story, and it took me back to all our family vacations at the Ozarks, exploring the bluffs and valleys along the Mississippi, and all the pretending I used to do about running away from home and living off the land.

I enjoyed Huck Finn for the story. Maybe I should have read more critically, and maybe I should say more things about it here now, and maybe I will do that later on. I certainly have some thoughts about its language and the controversy surrounding it that I might want to bring up later.

For now, however, I just enjoyed Huck Finn, and I sort of want to go visit Hannibal and maybe build a raft and float away down the Mississippi for awhile.

Rating: ***
Up Next: Cat’s Eye

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