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Finn : a novel
Jon Clinch
Adult Fiction CLINCH

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From Publishers' Weekly:

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Working from a few tantalizing hints in Mark Twain's text and building on recent trends in Twain scholarship, first-time novelist Clinch fleshes out the shadowy figure of Huckleberry Finn's father, known as Finn. In Clinch's version, Finn is the black sheep of his family-a barely literate drunkard who supports his habit by trading catfish for whiskey. His father is a bigoted circuit court judge, and his brother is an unctuous attorney. Finn lives in a rundown cabin on the riverbank with his beautiful black mistress and their pale mulatto child, Huck, but he knows that to reconcile with his father he must sever all ties with the woman. Clinch meticulously follows Twain's lead, concocting plausible backstories for the Widow Douglas and the Thatcher family and reconstructing the circumstances of Finn's death based on the clues that Huck's friend Jim found in the original novel. The Mississippi River is a character in its own right, prominently featured in each chapter. Every fan of Twain's masterpiece will want to read this inspired spin-off, which could become an unofficial companion volume. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/06.]-Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Finn
Huck Finn's father; known as "Pap"; had an ex-slave African-American lover, with whom he conceived a fair-skinned child, Huck; disowned by his father, a judge, and his brother; works odd jobs; traps catfish; spent time in jail for assault.

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