Most helpful critical review
Gets into the head of one of the finest writers of all time
on November 30, 2001
This book would have at least 4 stars if not for the negatives mentioned below. Regardless, the reader is truly exposed to Mark Twain's thoughts about his life as if he was on the porch with you talking about them. Particularly interesting were his recollections of his early childhood, his exposure to slavery and African Americans at that time, his lecture travels later in life, and difficulties with publishers. You also seem to catch fragments of stories that might/should have made it into his published works. (And his comments on all of the unpublished material that he destroyed! To be able to read that material now . . . .) Overall, a very enjoyable book that does well to capture a truly great American author.
There were some negatives -- The numerous times that Twain was apparently financially duped by publishers, relatives, and acquaintances was depressing, and much of the middle part of the book became a lament, in my opinion, because of that. But still, you get the perspective of a great author who was either genuinely financially naive or a lousy custodian of his money; or perhaps he 'stretched the truth' a little.
Also, at least in my copy, the pages were out of order in several places. (It was the equivalent to actually sitting on a porch with the great author, listening, but being occasionally interrupted by clouds of mosquitoes.) The out-of-order pages made it extremely annoying, and if you get a copy like that, send it back!