Monday, October 18, 2010

Another Tome From The Tomb: Mark Twain's Long-Awaited Autobiography

Maybe it's Halloween fever, but dead people are are selling books like crazy this month. The latest tome from the tomb is the Autobiography of Mark Twain: The Complete and Authoritative Edition, Volume 1, released Oct. 13 by the University of California Press.

Mark Twain “is his own greatest character in this brilliant self-portrait, the first of three volumes collected by the Mark Twain Project on the centenary of the author's death,” Publishers' Weekly said it its review posted on the book's page. “It is published complete and unexpurgated for the first time. (Twain wanted his more scalding opinions suppressed until long after his death.)”

Only 3 reader-reviewers, “civilians” as opposed to professional reviewers, had noted their opinions at this writing, giving the book 4.5 of 5 stars. One of them advises readers to get the iPad and Kindle ebook version because the printed book comes in at a 4 pound shipping weight and 760 pages.

Volumes 2 and 3 are in the offing.
Twain's Author's Page on Amazon lists 246 items, of which 169 are hardcover versions of his many works, 153 are in paperback, and only 52 are ebooks.

Twain's memoirs are a pointillist masterpiece from which his vision of America--half paradise, half swindle--emerges with indelible force,” Publisher's Weekly added.

Readers can meet anew or rekindle an old acquaintances with Twain's characters, including Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, in other inexpensive Kindle Store ebooks. Only one, to date, is offered free: one version of Life on the Mississippi. Prices of Twain's “backlist,” range from $1.00 and up to $4.99, excluding the Autobiography which is $9.99 in the Kindle Store.

Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835, died in 1910. He's best known by his pen name, Mark Twain, a term he says he borrowed from his days working as a pilot on riverboats.  "Mark twain" is a boatman's call that there is enough water for safe passage.  It "marks" two (twain) fathoms of depth, or 12 feet.

He specified his autobiography would not be published for 100 years, because he didn't want to offend those he wrote about.  That gave him free reign to skewer his victims with words, though reviewers say there is much more vivid and beautiful writing in the book beyond the well-known acidic wit.

 USA Today called the 100-year wait "a pretty good marketing technique" because the book is one of the top sellers on Amazon.  At this writing, the book is at No. 28 among all paid Kindle Store ebooks.  It is the No. 2 bestseller among printed books at Amazon.

At least on Amazon, all but one of Twain's book have a price tag.  The exception is Life on the Mississippi,  converted to an ebook by volunteers.  Other editions of the same book carry price tags.  But the complete library of Twain's writings available on Amazon, 246 different books and editions overall with only 52 in ebook format, range in price up to $4.99, with the exception of the Autobiography, which is $9.99 in the Kindle Store.

Last week, another posthumously published author, Marilyn Monroe, released  Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes and Letters, selling for $14.99 in the Kindle Store.

No comments:

Post a Comment