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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Barbara Schmidt <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 3 Jul 2007 14:55:29 -0600
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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BOOKS AND MEDIA: Briefly Noted

NONFICTION - the following notice was written by Ellison Jones, University
at Buffalo:

_Down the River; or Wildness of Heart_. By Loren K. Davidson. Xlibris,
2006. Pp. 148. Softcover. $20.99. ISBN 1-4257-0075-6. Loren K. Davidson's
self-published memoir tells the story of how he and two other young
academics from Ohio University, Bob Hogan and John Violette, went in search
of Huck Finn's world during the summer of 1957. From raft building in
Hannibal to staying on Jackson's Island, the trio finally end up "somewhere
in Arkansas." Along the way, the _New York Times_ featured a photo of them
on the front page of the June 20, 1957 issue when they paused in St. Louis,

Davidson and his friends research the river by taking soundings of the
river and contacting a number of scholars--Harry Hayden Clark, DeLancy
Ferguson, Edward Wagenknecht, Henry Nash Smith, Chester L. Davis, Walter
Blair, and August Derleth. Davidson and his traveling companions build a
raft from an old dock in Hannibal, Missouri and stock it with maps. As they
head south, Davidson documents their trip including all the characters they
meet along the way.

Davidson reveals that the men argued while on the raft, usually over whose
duty it was to row. His documentation of the disintegrating relationship
with his fellow academics amounts to side notes in the text. The real gems
in Davidson's memoirs are the glimpses he gives of the Mississippi river's
culture. As a guide for planning an adventure, _Down the River _ provides
plenty of horror stories and warnings. But, as Davidson makes clear, the
river will reward each rafter in its own ways; it gives and it takes. Here,
the river has given Davidson the opportunity to spin a yarn; but also
became the place in which three men became unintelligible to one another.
In this respect, _Down the River_ serves as a cautionary tale, a reminder
to pick our shipmates well.

Amazon link for this book:



_Channeling Mark Twain_. By Carol Muske-Dukes. Random House, 2007. Pp. 288.
Hardcover. $20.99. ISBN 0375509275. This novel, set in New York in the
1970s, features a protagonist who teaches poetry to inmates at the Women's
House of Detention on Rikers Island. Among her students are murderers and
drug addicts and a woman named Polly Lyle Clement. Clement claims to be
Mark Twain's great granddaughter and has the ability to channel his voice.
Muske-Dukes, an award-winning poet, taught at Rikers Island for several
years and the book is dedicated to members of that group.

The book was reviewed in the _Los Angeles Times_ this week. The link to
that review is:,0,7093709.story?coll=cl-

Amazon link for this book: