Finn

Jon Clinch, Author
Jon Clinch, Author . Random $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6591-2
Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
Library Binding - 398 pages - 978-1-58547-990-0
Paperback - 302 pages - 978-0-8129-7714-1
Compact Disc - 9 pages - 978-1-4281-2439-4
Open Ebook - 978-1-58836-584-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-9847-2
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In this darkly luminous debut, Finn, the namesake of the title, is not Twain's illustrious Huck, but Huck's father, "Pap." As the novel opens, an African-American woman's bloated corpse floats downriver from Lasseter, Ill., toward the slave territory of St. Petersburg, Mo. In the Lasseter woods, Finn—a dangerous, bigoted drunk—tells his blind bootlegger friend, Bliss, that he's finally "quit" his on-again, off-again African-American companion Mary, the mother of Finn's second son (also, confusingly, named Huck). Chronically short on money, Finn is shunned by his father (Adams County Judge James Manchester Finn) and by his brother, Will. Finn does odd jobs, traps catfish and claims tutelary rights to Huckleberry's share of Injun Joe's gold. (In this last, he is thwarted by Widow Douglas and Judge Thatcher, high-handed and stifling as ever.) The opaque in medias res narrative then backs up to detail Finn and Mary's life together: his drinking, his stint in the penitentiary following an assault (sentenced by his own father), Mary's rising debts and Finn's attempts at restitution. As the nature of the woman's murder becomes clear, Clinch lyrically renders the Mississippi River's ceaseless flow, while revealing Finn's brutal contradictions, his violence, arrogance and self-reproach. If Clinch's debut falls short of Twain's achievement, it does further Twain's fiction. (Feb.)

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