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Taylor Roberts <[log in to unmask]>
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Taylor Roberts <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 8 Feb 1999 14:48:44 EST
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The Mark Twain Forum needs a reviewer for the following book:

     Quirk, Tom.  _Mark Twain: A Study of the Short Fiction_.  (Twayne's
     Studies in Short Fiction, 66.)  New York: Twayne Publishers, 1997.
     Pp. xiv + 232.  Bibliography, index.  Cloth, 5-3/4" x 8-3/4".
     $29.00.  ISBN 0-8057-0867-7.

The jacket reads:

     Tom Quirk's study provides a comprehensive analysis of the comic
     genius and narrative originality that makes Mark Twain's short
     fiction a cornerstone of the American literary tradition.  Quirk's
     presentation of Twain's career as a writer of short fiction is
     complemented with selections of Twain's essays on writing.  A
     collection of important critical essays rounds out this balanced
     and informative work.

     In part 1, Quirk examines Twain's career from the time Samuel
     Clemens adopted his pen name, in 1863, until the time of his death
     in 1910.  Within this frame, Quirk traces three creative periods:
     Twain's early years, during which he made a name for himself as a
     teller of tall tales with a talent for frontier humor; his middle
     years, during which he approached more serious themes and emerged
     as a prominent literary figure; and finally Quirk reassesses what
     has been called Twain's "bad mood" period and argues for the
     persistence of Twain's remarkable literary gift, even in those
     final years filled with cynicism and despair.

     Quirk's aim in _Mark Twain: A Study of the Short Fiction_ is to
     provide a "descriptive account of Twain's imaginative energies and
     his literary development as they are revealed in his short
     fiction."  His selections of Twain's writing provide excellent
     examples of the literary energy that Quirk so vividly describes.
     In "How To Tell a Story," among other essays in part 2, Twain
     reveals his own understanding of the literary process and his
     intentions as a writer.  The six critical essays reprinted in part
     3 offer a range of perspectives, from Twain's contemporary, William
     Dean Howells, to the eminent Twain scholar Louis J. Budd and other
     current scholars in the field [Don Florence, Walter Blair, Gregg
     Camfield, and Susan K. Harris].

     Quirk draws a portrait of Twain as an imaginative "conjurer,"
     exposing the blend of spontaneity and craftsmanship that
     characterizes Mark Twain's short fiction.  He convincingly argues
     that the short fiction clearly reveals the depths of Twain's
     emotions and the range of his concerns.  With lucid and lively
     prose, _Mark Twain_ for the first time gives students, scholars,
     and Twain enthusiasts a comprehensive study of this "distinctively
     native art form": Twain's short fiction.

     About the author: Tom Quirk is professor of English at the
     University of Missouri-Columbia.  He is the author of _Melville's
     Confidence Man_ (1982), _Bergson and American Culture: The Worlds
     of Willa Cather and Wallace Stevens_ (1990), and _Coming to Grips
     with Huckleberry Finn_ (1994) [reviewed for the _Forum_ by David
     Tomlinson, 5 June 1994], among other works.  He is a contributor to
     _American Literature_, _Studies in American Humor_, _Prospects_,
     and other journals.

As usual, the review must be of publishable quality, and it would be due
within two months of your receipt of the book (i.e., due mid-April
1999).  The deadline is particularly important, as we are making every
effort for Forum reviews to appear before print reviews.  If you are
inclined to procrastinate, please don't offer to review the book.

If you would like to see the general content and style of Forum book
reviews, feel free to browse the archive of reviews, which are available
at TwainWeb:

If you're interested in writing a review, please send me both your home
and institutional mailing addresses and phone numbers.  If I don't know
you already, it would be helpful for you to explain in what respect
you're qualified to write the review.  (If we haven't exchanged e-mail
recently, it might be a good idea for you to remind me of this info.)

I look forward to hearing from you.

Taylor Roberts
Book review editor, Mark Twain Forum