Regarding Mr. Salwen's remark that he has not and probably will not read the (entire) autiobiography, I can only say, too bad. I bought the book as soon as it was published, as he did, and I also bought the unabridged audiobook version of it. I agree with Mr. Salwen that the hardback is large and not too easy on the eyes of those of us who have loved Twain for 50 years or more, but I can testify that I listened to the audio nearly non-stop (I had to go to work, and eat and sleep) and I loved it. I bet Mr. Salwen has not heard all the stories....but if he has, he will enjoy them again without doubt. Not everyone will read a book this long that seems to ramble, but those who do will be rewarded with lots of humor and insight into humanity. And they will encounter some very well crafted prose. As soon as I cool down from listening to the audio, I plan to listen to it again. I agree with the old saying, too much of a good thing is wonderful. ________________________________ From: Peter Salwen <[log in to unmask]> To: [log in to unmask] Sent: Tue, December 21, 2010 6:52:40 PM Subject: Re: "anyone care to take a stab at identifying the real issues?" Sorry about that garbled text; there's something weird going on with my email program. I'll try again: The arguments around the Autobiography put me in mind of the blind men and the elephant. Some critics think the book is bloated & self-indulgent and -- to the extent that it's been presented as popular entertainment, a fraud on the reading public. We, on the other hand, think it is manna from Twain heaven, gloriously prepared and offered (free!) by the world's greatest literary chefs. Thing is, they're both right. Twain may have thought he was writing the Autobiography for the great mass of his readers, but let's face it: it was edited and published for US, the handful of committed (and perhaps certifiable) Twainiacs who, for whatever reason, want to get as close as we can to the magical mystery that was Mark Twain. Hence the initial print order of only 7500 copies. The book's commercial success has little to do with what it actually is, I think, and everything to do with Twain's amazing charisma and salesmanship. And the "embargo," which probably helped the Autobiography the way the Concord Library censors helped Huckleberry Finn ("That will sell 25,000 copies for us, sure"). And the implied promise (pretty silly, when you think about it) of titillating revelations. And I'm sure the sex-toy canard some reporters thought they found in Laura's book didn't hurt sales any. But the book simply isn't for everyone. I've been a Twain worshipper for around 55 years and I expect to remain so. I ordered the Autobiography the moment it went on sale and it was the treat of the year when it arrived, like Sam Clemens, two months early. It's on the shelf with the other treasures from the Mark Twain Project and kindred scholars and institutions, and I expect to spend many happy hours rummaging between its covers. But even I have no plans to actually read all of this seven-pound monster any time soon. My eyes can no longer cope with those acres of 8- and 10-point Garamond, it's too heavy to read in bed -- and anyway, I've already heard most of the stories. What the world is still waiting for, I suspect, and perhaps may get in another five or six years (after vols. II and III come out), is an adroitly abridged edition in a subway-friendly format. Pete Salwen ________________________________ From: Harold Bush <[log in to unmask]> To: [log in to unmask] Sent: Tue, December 21, 2010 10:44:05 AM Subject: Re: Garrison Keillor on the autobiography I'm intrigued by Barbara's observation here, and Michael Kiskis's remarks awhile back -- and now I'm wondering what these two rather comparable reviews, both in topnotch NYC publications, tell us about this as publishing and/or cultural phenomenon. In other words, what is the "kernel of truth" that both these writers is picking up on here? is it completely about their sense of being hornswaggled? or is this symptomatic of something even bigger - and if so, anyone care to take a stab at identifying the real issues at stake, the prognosis as it were?