On the Road with Mark Twain and Others

9780385536448_p0_v2_s192x300  If real travel is not possible, vicariously circling the globe with Mark Twain might be the next best thing.  In Richard Zacks’ Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain’s Raucous and Redemptive Round-the World Comedy Tour, I found a way to improve my humor and satisfy my yearning to visit new places.

At fifty-nine years old, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) had a magnificent mansion in Connecticut he could not afford to live in, was renowned as a humorist and author, and had made so many bad investments in quick rich schemes he had lost his heiress wife’s fortune and was seriously in debt.  The typesetting machine he had hoped would revolutionize publishing and secure his fortune was having problems, so he decided to go on tour to recoup his losses.

Through letters, diaries, journals, newspaper articles, and quotes from Twain himself,  Zacks captures the three year tour of the soft-spoken white-haired author in an evening suit, who travelled in luxury at the expense of his sponsors and never cracked a smile as he entertained the world.  Fans of Mark Twain will appreciate learning more about the author and enjoy his perspective on the world and life.  Samuel Clemens lived life large.

I am reading the book slowly and savoring… 

Also Reading:  The Life of the World to Come

9781511371186_p0_v2_s192x300   When someone you’ve known for a while dies unexpectedly, the tendency may be to ponder your own mortality or perhaps broaden your thinking into the universe at large. Dan Cluchey’s The Life of the World to Come is feeding my mind’s meanderings as I think about a friend who died recently. Sometimes a book comes to you – a love story mingled with thoughts about the afterlife

Related Post:

Following the Bliss of Independent Book Stores

With only one independent book store left on the island where I live, and the Borders book stores all gone, the recent replacement of the Barnes and Noble with a Ross Dress for Less seemed like the end. Although I find it hard to leave a bookstore without buying a book, clearly my purchases could not sustain their existence, and I too have been guilty of the convenience of mail orders and e-books. But a place without books is like a room without books – says something about who lives there.

So, on my road trip in California, I’ve been seeking out book stores, finding friendly owners who actually read books, and losing myself in the stacks, opening covers, touching pages, feeling the comfort.

So far, thanks to a fellow reader, I found Chaucer’s books in Santa Barbara – bought Rosemary Ahern’s The Art of the Epigraph: How a Great Book Begins a book I never would have found without browsing. Next, nestled among the bakeries and kitschy storefronts of Solvang, I found The Book Loft; my purchase – Valerie Martin’s The Ghost of Mary Celeste.

As I travel North to Monterey, I’ll be looking for more book stores. Do you know of any I can visit? I brought an extra suitcase.