So you can read my books

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”  Mark Twain

How do you "discover" things that are 150 years old?

Ask Bob Hirst, editor of the UC Berkeley’s Mark Twain Project, 

which unearthed and authenticated a cache of stories written by Mark Twain when he was a 29-year-old newspaperman in San Francisco.

He and his crew did it by combing through western newspaper archives and scrapbooks. 

Twain topics range from San Francisco police –

who at one point attempted, unsuccessfully, to sue Twain for comparing their chief to a dog chasing its tail to impress its mistress – 

to mining accidents.

The articles were written, Hirst said, at a time of great uncertainty in Twain’s life, when he was trying to decide in which direction to take his career.

“It’s really a crisis time for him,” Hirst said. 

“He’s going to be 30 on 30 November 1865, and for someone not to have chosen a career by that time in this period was quite unusual.”

Twain had been resisting becoming a humorist, according to Hirst, 

because at the time humor was considered a lower order of writing. 

He was in debt and drinking heavily, and even wrote to his brother that he was contemplating suicide, saying: 

“If I do not get out of debt in three months – pistols or poison for one – exit me.”

{You can read of that period at the start of Death In The House of Life}

Nonetheless, the articles, Hirst says, are brilliant examples of Twain’s inimitable style.

“He knows the city, he’s a bohemian of a certain kind, he’s interested in what’s going on,” Hirst said. 

“He simply weaves that all together with the greatest clarity and the greatest humor that you could possibly imagine.”


  1. What an interesting character Twain was. His words live on well past his death, and will always resonate. I'm glad he settled on writing stories!

    How are you Roland?

    Denise :-)

    1. I'm still rather frazzled from my 750 mile weekend! But I have to get back into the saddle again -- have to pay for Midnight's surgery, tests, shots, and upkeep!

      I'm glad he resisted the depression and urge to suicide.

      Thanks for asking and caring. :-)

  2. I would LOVE to read them.
    As I loved hearing that a black moggy had moved into your home and heart.

    1. I would too. Some internet articles have links to read some of them. Poor Midnight is still at the doctor's having worms, fleas, and surgeries done unto him! He may hate me before he gets to know me!

  3. Being drunk and in debt is a great source of writing material and perspective.

  4. How exciting! I love Mark Twain and his stories, and I guess I'd always assumed that we knew about all his newspaper pieces from his reporting days. But I didn't know that he was so down about his lack of a career. It's good news for all of us that he hung in there and made it.

    1. Those newspaper articles were on microfilm and hard to make out. He was down on his seeming failure at his dreams. We can all relate, right?

  5. Hi Roland - always surprising what comes to light after many decades. The stories and their descriptions will add to our knowledge of those times.

    Poor Midnight - he will improve and come to love you dearly ... as you already do him ... take care - Hilary