A further note on "Finn"

For my judgment of Jon Clinch's novel, Finn, you can check out the "recommended books" on the right or the more extensive review below.

But in the Sunday New York Times Book Review, Ron Powers, author of Flags of Our Fathers and an irritating, over-written biography of Mark Twain, reviewed Finn. In the course of the review, he chided Mr. Clinch for borrowing from Twain and chided him for differing from Twain and chided him for occasionally acknowledging those borrowings and those differences. In effect, Mr. Powers objected to the entire project.

One of the oddest parts of his argument was his sarcastic reference to Mr. Clinch's depiction of the "nihilistic, uninflected murder and cruelty that seem inextricable from the harsh riverine terrain" -- odd because of Mr. Powers' own book, Tom and Huck Don't Live Here Anymore: Childhood and Murder in the Heart of America, in which he investigates the senseless, contemporary murder of an old man by two teenagers as well as his own childhood with an abusive father.

As for the spellbinding language and style Mr. Clinch uses in Finn, those were influenced by Cormac McCarthy, Mr. Powers declares. Probably true, but then, in his biography of Twain, Mr. Powers drops words such as "absquatulated," goes off on highly poetic raptures (he compares Twain's language to jazz riffs, after all) and repeatedly hails Twain himself as a rock star.

So perhaps as literary stylists go, Cormac McCarthy isn't such a bad model for a first-time novelist to choose.

March 12, 2007 10:45 AM | | Comments (1)



well, Mr. powers seems to be a bit of a cranky old hypocrite doesn't he? Does a bad review from a bad author make it a good review?

Glad I linked here from Sam Houston's site. I enjoy your writing.


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