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Clay Shannon <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Clay Shannon <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 24 Nov 2016 17:28:26 +0000
text/plain (203 lines)
Kevin Mac Donnell has written many reviews of Twain books.
Have these been assembled in one place - into a book, or a PDF file, or some such?
I own a couple of dozens books by and about Twain, have read a couple of dozen others, am currently reading several (including "Mark Twain and Youth" with its superlative Foreword by Holbrook), and have dozens more in my "queue."
Access to Mac Donnell's reviews would help me decide which ones should march up to the front of the queue.
If the complete reviews are available, even as text files, I would be glad to assemble them into a PDF file - provided of course, Mr. Donnell would permit that. - B. Clay ShannonSecurity Check Required

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      From: Kenneth M. Sanderson <[log in to unmask]>
 To: [log in to unmask] 
 Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 7:49 AM
 Subject: Re: BOOK REVIEWS: _Mark Twain for Cat Lovers_, Dawidziak; _Mark Twain for Dog Lovers_, Rasmussen
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