Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Writer I’d Happily Have A Drink With

So I was thinking the other day about all the reading I’ve done in my life and how many writers I’ve met (through books) and this question popped into my head:
If I could meet one writer (alive or dead) in person, who would I choose?

And let me tell you, it was very hard to settle on one. Because there are so sO SO many writers to date whose work I’ve read. And enjoyed. Oodles. But after a considerable amount of thought, and for various reasons, I decided on Mark Twain.

“Opinions based upon theory, superstition, and ignorance are not very precious.”
I was forced to read his books in high school, and discovered – much to my surprise - that they’re pretty darn good. Twain scored big points for this since there were other authors that I painfully ‘read’ through. So I like his stories, and his writing style. And I’m grateful that the teacher who introduced me to him thought so, too.
 
“The older we grow the greater becomes our wonder at how
much ignorance one can contain without bursting one's clothes.”
In addition to enjoying some of his books, I think I’d enjoy his company. He seems like a lot of fun, and I imagine conversations with him would be enlightening, and quite entertaining. Witty, intelligent and blunt...what’s there not to like?
 
“I haven't any right to criticize books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often
want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy
from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read 'Pride and
Prejudice' I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
I’m also under the impression that he was progressive but also quite cynical about humanity, which resonates strongly with me. I cling to hope for a better world, but certainly don’t hold my breath that the dark underbelly of human beings will ever cease to exist. I think I’d enjoy discussing these thoughts with this writer.

"Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one
that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to
exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out...and help
to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he
has no quarrel. And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands
and works for "the universal brotherhood of man"--with his mouth.
And let’s not forget that this lecturer, satirist, journalist and author of 28 books and numerous articles and short stories was a great cat lover. Yup, he sure was. He had a beloved black cat named Bambino, and when it went missing, Twain placed an ad in the New York American offering a $5 reward for its return.


At his farm in Connecticut, Twain kept eleven cats. He wrote: I simply can't resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.”

And his wittiness didn’t stop at his writing; it was included in the naming of his cats, some of which were called: Sour Mash, Stray Kit, Sin, Satan, Apollinaris, Zoroaster, Blatherskite, Beelzebub. Names that, according to him "given them not in an unfriendly spirit, but merely so the children could practice large and difficult styles of pronunciation." He was the ‘crazy cat man’, and you gotta like him simply for that alone.


So, yes, if I had a chance to meet a (dead or alive) writer, it most certainly would be Mark Twain.

And if he was alive today, I think he would even like grumpy cat. And she might even like him.


26 comments:

  1. Martha, you have broadened my appreciation for Mr. Twain! Thank you! He was a character in so many diverse ways.
    Let me see, who would I like to meet and photograph while I was there? lol
    Well, she is not known as a writer per say, more for her paintings and photography to a lesser degree.....that would be Georgia O'Keefe. I really appreciate her work and the way she 'stuck to her guns' in a time when women just didn't do that.
    It will be interesting to see who others will nominate as their favourite writers.

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    1. The name is familiar to me, but I can't quite place her. I'll have to look up Georgia O'Keefe and see if I've run across information about her. At the very least, I'm too curious now not to!

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  2. As a 10 year old I was cast in the play of Huckleberry Finn, so many years ago now. SO my intro to Mark Twain was very early in my life. Your passion for him is only enhanced by the "kitty kitty" love he had I'm sure. Fascinating, thanks for this!

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    1. Yes, the kitty kitty love would certainly be a bonus for him...hahaha... But even without the cats, I think I'd still like him. Seems like he had quite the quirky character.

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  3. Excellent choice, Martha! I've always loved Mark Twain, too, especially his wonderful dry wit. He'd make a very interesting dinner companion, for sure, though I suspect I'd feel quite shy in his presence.

    His cat names made me laugh. I've known a few cats for whom Beelzebub would be a very appropriate name. :-)

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    1. Hahahaha...I love that last statement! Yes, there can be quite a few 'devilish' cats out there :)

      I think Mark Twain would be a blast at a dinner party.

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  4. Good choice, Martha. I love reading his quotes and choice comments about humankind. I'm not sure who i would choose. I'd love to be at a dinner table with Oscar Wilde - he was quite the wicked conversationalist I think.

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    1. Oh yes, now there's a wonderful choice, Francie! Oscar Wilde - from what I've gathered - was quite a character, too. Imagine if he got together with Mark Twain!

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  5. OMG this made me laugh out loud! Twain would be quite a character to meet - for sure! I absolutely love his quote about Jane Austin. That is hilarious! I personally love reading her, but I see his point!

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    1. The Jane Austin quote is one of the funniest I've ever heard. Yes, Mark Twain must have had one heck of a character!

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  6. A deep thinker and philosopher who could communicate his thoughts with humour --- a rare combination of talents. Canadian Stephen Leacock comes to mind as a writer cut from the same cloth.

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    1. Oh, I'll have to also look up Stephen Leacock. Another person that I'm now curious about...

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  7. Good choice, Martha! And I agree -- Grumpy Cat and Mark Twain would be kindred spirits.

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    1. They sure would be kindred spirits. Maybe grumpy cat is a reincarnation of Mark Twain...LOL...

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  8. I'm with you, Martha, if you get to sit down and have a drink with this great man, please invite me too!
    And I think, as long as we are just dreaming about it, I would have a table of men writers at one table and a table of women writers at another table. I don't know why I would separate them, I just would!
    Ha!

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    1. I definitely will, Kay!

      Perhaps the men and women would get into a battle of wits that way!

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  9. I'd love an invite as well, Martha! I like your choice,and he loved cats? That's good enough for me.

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    1. Yes, I'd invite you, too. Being a sulky kitten, I've no doubt Mark Twain would like that!

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  10. Not a huge Twain fan but I would love to have met J. R. R. Tolkien.

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    1. Another interesting individual to add to the list!

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  11. I want to read more by Twain... but... too many books, too little time!

    Thankfully, the author I most want to meet (Tad Williams) is still alive. I even met him once, but only very briefly... I desperately hope that another chance will present itself, and it will be more than just a few sentences exchanged as he signs a book!

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    1. Yes, too many books, too little time! I hear you!

      That sounds exciting! I've never met any of the writers whose books I enjoy. I would love for that to happen!

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  12. thank you!! excellent post - in particular the mention of bambino! <3
    in my goodreads profile (and my imaginary fiction book life) my parents would be kahlo +twain.
    here is a post you may also enjoyed, I published it on his bday: http://bikesandthecity.blogspot.com/2012/12/happy-birthday-mark-twain.html

    have a great weekend -- xxomeli

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    1. That was a great post! I loved all the photos. It truly feels like you're stepping back in time. I'd never heard of Virginia City, but it looks quite lovely.

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