My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Terrific classic. Genesis of CSI, if you think about it–early courtroom drama. I’d be interested to know when the concept of the fingerprint being used as evidence came about, because Twain did a great job presenting it as if for the first time in this little historical town.
So there’s this other item of personal note, meant especially for authors currently alive and writing. Twain’s use of colloquial, phonetic language on behalf of African American slaves is beyond reproach given what he did to call attention to unfair treatment of people of color. He was arguably one of the first civil rights activists, if authorship can itself be considered activism, which I strongly believe.
In this book, the fact that I find phonetic use of colloquial speech distracting as a reader did not bother me other than early on, while I was adjusting; all the while I was certain that it would be well worth the patience in adjusting to the phonetic representations, and indeed I was far from disappointed.
So I take this review as an opportunity to make a side-note to other authors–I beg you, please don’t spell colloquial speech patterns out painstakingly, and just as they sound as a habit throughout your manuscripts or publications. Split the difference somehow–maybe give us a taste and make references to it with a word or two as you go, if you’re afraid we’ll forget there’s an accent in place. It’s just distracting. Twain was entitled to this, you are not; get over it and write in the language you have chosen, leading us with the colloquial in the least distracting way that you can and still keep it represented, or I’s gwine tuh give ya a whuping!