This is the opening section of #11 - go to the above url to click "read more" and open each of 'em, #10 on down through #1. Gary invented SALON, and still is executive editor there.
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THE BAYCITIZEN SERIES FINALE
#11 Twain's Genius: Channeling his Boyhood Memories
By Gary Kamiya |November 18, 2010, 10:13 a.m. |In Mark Twain
#11 in a series (read the complete blog)
Finally, we come to the Autobiography proper. Woohoo! Page 203!
The first, very brief, section, titled “An Early Attempt,” was dictated in 1906, like most of what follows. In it, Twain sets out his autobiographical credo. He writes that the chapters that immediately follow (the non-dictated ones) had been abandoned because they followed the “old, old, old inflexible and difficult one – the plan that starts you at the cradle and drives you straight for the grave, with no side-excursions permitted on the way. Whereas the side-excursions are the life of our life-voyage, and should be, also, of its history.”
What follows is a long section, titled “My Autobiography (Random Extracts From It),” written in Vienna during 1897-98. This latter section is famous (Neider used it in his chronologically-arranged “Autobiography”) and contains Twain’s reminiscences about his early life.
One passage in particular gave me goose-bumps. It begins “I can see the farm yet, with perfect clearness. I can see all its belongings, all its details…” And then Twain goes on to describe, with lapidary clarity, the family room of the house: the logs in the fireplace bubbling with sap, the mournful sound of the spinning-wheel, the “slick and carpetless oak floor faintly mirroring the dancing flame-tongues and freckled with black indentations where fire-coals had popped out and died a leisurely death…”
(read more), the page orders you.