Review of The Trouble Begins at 8, by Sid Fleischman


The Trouble Begins at 8

A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West

by Sid Fleischman

Greenwillow Books, 2008.  224 pages.

Sid Fleischman here pulls off an entertaining, interesting biography, in the spirit of Mark Twain himself.

He begins:

“Mark Twain was born fully grown, with a cheap cigar clamped between his teeth.

“The even took place, as far as is known, in a San Francisco hotel room sometime in the fall of 1865.  The only person attending was a young newspaperman and frontier jester named Samuel Langhorne Clemens.”

It turns out that Mark Twain told different versions of his life story at different times.  I like the way Sid Fleischman sorts through these to the likely truth, but makes it clear that this may be embellished.

The book is peppered with photographs and illustrations from the time period, making it even more interesting.  Mark Twain lived an exciting and colorful life, and this biography is anything but dull reading.

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