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Jim Leonard <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 9 May 2011 14:03:42 -0400
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Like everyone else, I'm thunderstruck at the sudden passing of Michael
Kiskis, whom I regarded as a friend of the first magnitude.  I always
looked forward to spending time with him at Mark Twain gatherings and
rarely, if ever, missed the opportunity to do so.  Although very much a
joker, he was also a deeply sincere person.  He seemed in both of those
ways to share a deep kinship (that he was well aware of) with Mark Twain

John Bird mentioned Michael's important (though mostly
behind-the-scenes) role in launching The Mark Twain Annual.  Michael
also took some pride in having been one of the founders of the Mark
Twain Circle--at the storied first gathering at MLA 1986.  As for his
teaching, I have no doubt that it revolved around a principle that he
articulated in his essay "'When I read this book as a child ... the
ugliness was pushed aside': Adult Students Read and Respond to
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn":  "all worthwhile critical work begins
with personal interest and provocative ideas."  He took a personal
interest in Mark Twain, in his students, and in his friends--who
apparently included everyone with a serious interest in Mark Twain, or
in literature in general.  Michael loved Mark Twain because Twain was a
real human being, and we loved Michael for the same reason.

--Jim Leonard