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"Kenneth M. Sanderson" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 23 Nov 2016 07:49:01 -0800
text/plain (178 lines)
Lyons Press?!

On Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 5:40 AM, Clay Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> They both sound very appealing; my personal favorite "critter" is the
> Duckb=
> illed Platypus, which Twain mentions by its scientific/Latin name in
> Follow=
> ing the Equator, and even waxes poetic about it, I think.=C2=A0- B. Clay
> Sh=
> annon
>       From: Barbara Schmidt <[log in to unmask]>
>  To: [log in to unmask]
>  Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 4:33 AM
>  Subject: BOOK REVIEWS: _Mark Twain for Cat Lovers_, Dawidziak; _Mark
> Twain=
>  for Dog Lovers_, Rasmussen
>   =20
> The following review was written for the Mark Twain Forum by Kevin Mac
> Donnell.
> ~~~~~
> _Mark Twain for Cat Lovers: True and Imaginary Adventures with Feline
> Friends_. Mark Dawidziak. Lyons Press, 2016. Pp. 188. Hardcover $17.95.
> ISBN 978-1-4930-1957-1 (hardcover). ISBN 978-1-4930-2709-5 (ebook).
> _Mark Twain for Dog Lovers: True and Imaginary Adventures with Man's Best
> Friend_. R. Kent Rasmussen. Lyons Press, 2016. Pp. 202. Hardcover $17.95.
> ISBN 978-1-4930-1958-8 (hardcover). ISBN 978-1-4930-2710-1 (ebook).
> Many books reviewed on the Mark Twain Forum are available at discounted
> prices from the Twain Web Bookstore. Purchases from this site generate
> commissions that benefit the Mark Twain Project. Please visit <
> Reviewed for the Mark Twain Forum by:
> Kevin Mac Donnell
> Copyright (c) 2016 Mark Twain Forum. This review may not be published or
> redistributed in any medium without permission.
> Animals are prominent in Mark Twain's writings. A frog brought him his
> first national fame--actually, two frogs--one that hopped and one that did
> not. A dog tells one story (although Mark Twain's name appears as author),
> and a horse and an elephant are each the focus of other stories. Blue jays
> and crows behave exactly like humans. Cats, both dead and alive, make
> memorable appearances, and one medicated cat performs somersaults. An
> elephant vanishes, and a motley crew of creatures mount a scientific
> expedition. In fact, animals densely populate his shorter sketches and
> newspaper work, and they are found in nearly every one of his longer
> writings and story collections: _The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras
> County_ (1867), _The Innocents Abroad_ (1869), _Roughing It_ (1872),
> _Sketches New and Old_ (1875), _The Adventures of Tom Sawyer_ (1876), _A
> Tramp Abroad_ (1880), _The Stolen White Elephant_ (1882), _Life on the
> Mississippi_ (1883), _Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_ (1885), _A
> Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court_ (1889), _Tom Sawyer Abroad_
> (1894), _Pudd'nhead Wilson_ (1894), _Tom Sawyer Detective_ (1896),
> _Following the Equator_ (1897), _A Dog's Tale_ (1903), _What Is Man?_
> (1906), _A Horse's Tale_ (1907), _The Mysterious Stranger_ (1916, 1963,
> 1968), and _Mark Twain's Autobiography_ (1924, 2010, 2013, 2015).
> Animals figure prominently in Mark Twain's personal life as well. He
> frequently appears in photographs with both dogs and cats--more often with
> cats--and he once sat with a fake cat curled in his lap. He was surrounded
> by cats in his youth and his old age, but it was a dog that was in his room
> in his last days. Some of his Langdon relatives were very nearly killed
> before his eyes when their carriage was carried away by a runaway horse,
> and his daughter Jean narrowly escaped death when the horse she was riding
> was struck and killed by a street-car. He welcomed most animals that came
> his way, but a snake that slithered into the library of his Hartford home
> was promptly tossed out a window with fireplace tongs.
> Twainians will fondly recall Robert M. Rodney and Minnie M. Brashear's _The
> Birds and Beasts of Mark Twain_ (1966), Janet Smith's _Mark Twain on Man
> and Beast_ (1972), Maxwell Geismer's _The Higher Animals, A Mark Twain
> Bestiary_ (1976) and Shelley Fisher Fishkin's more recent _Mark Twain's
> Book of Animals_ (2010). These artfully illustrated volumes document Mark
> Twain's depictions of the animals already mentioned above, as well as
> bears, chameleons, mules, turkeys, buffaloes, cows, assorted insects,
> monkeys, kangaroos, camels, coyotes, and fish. And that's not all! Who
> among us can forget, far off in the empty sky, the solitary oesophagus that
> slept upon motionless wing?
> But these other animals don't rank as high in Mark Twain's estimation as
> cats and dogs. The human race may have been damned, but not cats and dogs.
> Twain's daughter Susy famously said her mother loved morals, but her father
> loved cats, and she was right. No matter where he lived he always had cats
> in his life. While the same cannot be said for Twain's relationship with
> dogs, he wrote an entire book about a dog--not a cat, and he wrote to his
> friend William Dean Howells that he hoped to go to dog's heaven, not man's.
> So it seems inevitable that well-known Mark Twain scholars Mark Dawidziak
> and Kent Rasmussen would come along, and it's suddenly Twaining cats and
> dogs: Abner, Agnes, Bismark, Bummer, Catullus, Cataline, Cattaraugus,
> Catasauqua, Motley, Stray Kit, Fraulein, Lazy, Buffalo Bill, Soapy Sal,
> Prosper le Gai, Cleveland, Fix, Peter, Sin, Satan, Famine, Pestilence, Sour
> Mash, Tom Quartz, Appollinaris, Zoroaster, Blatherskite, Lazarus, Babylon,
> Bones, Belchazar, Elihu Vedder, Genesis, Deuteronomy, Germania, Bambino,
> Andrew Jackson, Ananda, Annanci, Socrates Goldenrod Slee, Jo Cook,
> Sackcloth, Sackcloth, Ashes, Tammany, Sinbad, Danbury, Billiards, Aileen
> Mavourneen, Mark Twain and Mark Twain. The listings of two Sackcloths and
> two Twains are not typos. This cloudburst of cats and dogs is not a
> complete list, but most of these dogs and cats appear in the two volumes
> just published. If you want to test your Twainian credentials, identify
> which of these are dogs and which are cats, and then read these books to
> check your answers.
> Dawidziak collects together forty stories and extracts from Twain's
> writings about cats, and Rasmussen has gathered forty-six about dogs. The
> pieces selected range from entire stories to short extracts from a variety
> of sources that include well-known newspapers, obscure newspapers, Twain's
> correspondence, Twain's own memoirs, and other memoirs by his longtime
> housekeeper Kate Leary, his lecture agent James B. Pond, and his daughter
> Clara. Each story is sourced, and all are introduced with informed and
> light-hearted prefatory notes. Rather than original art work like the
> Geismer and Fishkin volumes, these two little tomes are generously
> illustrated with original photographs of Mark Twain posing and playing with
> dogs and cats, and illustrations from early editions of Twain's writings,
> as well as some from other contemporary sources. Both volumes are designed
> to appeal to general readers and serious Twainians alike.
> Readers will find these books hard to put down once they browse the
> contents pages. The cat stories are grouped into six categories:=C2=A0
> "Cat=
> s Who
> Eat Cocoanuts, Smoke Cigars, and Get Blown Up"; "No Home Complete Without a
> Cat"; "Give Me a Cat"; "What Is [sic] Dead Cats Good For?"; "Lions and
> Tigers and Twain"; and, "No Ordinary Cats." The dog stories are likewise
> divided dogmatically into six sections: "Mark Twain in the Company of
> Dogs"; "Uncommon Canines"; "Put-Upon Pooches"; "Party Animals"; "Dogs With
> Foreign Accents"; and "Lessons We Can Learn from Dogs." The books are
> equally enjoyable whether the pieces are read in order or at random, and
> along the way every reader will learn something new.
> Every Twainian will see the familiar expected episodes--the dog that
> disrupts the church service, the cat that swallows painkiller, the fatal
> encounter of fifteen dogs with a Good Little Boy, the cat in the ruff--but
> no Twainian will be familiar with all of them. There will be some
> surprises--an obituary for a famous San Francisco dog, an entomologist who
> identifies the species of beetle that pinches the nose of the dog that
> disrupts the church service (and names a beetle after Twain--Sonoma
> twaini), some cats who fall asleep on command, and how Twain uses a cat to
> argue against Shakespeare's authorship of the plays that bear his name.
> Readers can enjoy Twain's canine description that inspired Chuck Jones to
> create his famous Roadrunner cartoons, and mourn the violent death of a
> handsome cat that Twain dubbed the "mascat" of the Aquarium, his club for
> his surrogate grand-daughters, the angelfish. This list could be extended,
> but only at the risk of teasers morphing into spoilers.
> Some avid readers will dog-ear these books. Librarians will catalogue them.
> Some will buy them as gifts for their cater-cousins. Some will be
> catapulted to new heights by reading them right away, while others may hold
> off for the dog-days of summer. But get to your nearest bookshop any way
> you might--by dogcart or by catamaran--and obtain these books. It would be
> a dog-gone catastrophe not to. I daresay, only somebody dog-tired or
> catatonic, or perhaps just resting on a catafalque, could do without them.
>   =20