Our leading postmodernist novelist turns his iconoclastic eye to a great American classic in this sequel to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
At the end of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, on the eve of the Civil War, Huck and Tom Sawyer decide to escape "sivilization" and "light out for the Territory." In Robert Coover's Huck Out West, also "wrote by Huck," the boys do just that, riding for the famous but short-lived Pony Express, then working as scouts for both sides in the war.
They are suddenly separated when Tom decides he'd rather own civilization than leave it, returning east with his new wife, Becky Thatcher, to learn the law from her father. Huck, abandoned and "dreadful lonely," hires himself out to "whosoever." He rides shotgun on coaches, wrangles horses on a Chisholm Trail cattle drive, joins a gang of bandits, guides wagon trains, gets dragged into U.S. Army massacres, suffers a series of romantic and barroom misadventures.
He is eventually drawn into a Lakota tribe by a young brave, Eeteh, an inventive teller of Coyote tales who "was having about the same kind of trouble with his tribe as I was having with mine." There is an army colonel who wants to hang Huck and destroy Eeteh's tribe, so they're both on the run, finding themselves ultimately in the Black Hills just ahead of the 1876 Gold Rush.
This period, from the middle of the Civil War to the centennial year of 1876, is probably the most formative era of the nation's history. In the West, it is a time of grand adventure, but also one of greed, religious insanity, mass slaughter, virulent hatreds, widespread poverty and ignorance, ruthless military and civilian leadership, huge disparities of wealth. Only Huck's sympathetic and gently comical voice can make it somehow bearable.
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"Starred Review. Coover delivers a near-masterpiece. It's pitch-perfect and laceratingly funny but also a surprisingly tender, touching paean to the power of storytelling and the pains of growing up." - Booklist
"Starred Review. With the humor and wit of Twain, Coover punctures the American myth of Manifest Destiny and the fantastical tales we create to avoid understanding and empathy." - Library Journal
"With gusto and a rollicking plot, Coover tackles the daunting task of crafting a sequel to a Mark Twain classic....A lively and fast-paced encore for a beloved American hero." - Publishers Weekly
"Coover effectively mirrors Twain's style and Huck's voice as well as the peripatetic movement of the original...This novel reminds us that the more things change, the more they stay the same." - Kirkus
"An extraordinary book a beautifully earnest and direct work from perhaps the most formidable trickster in American letters. Anyone with an ounce of heart in their chests should read this immediately." - Alan Moore, author of Jerusalem
"A giant stands on the shoulders of a giant, and the view is large and giddying. In its vibrant skylarking and in its yearning undertow, this disenchanted enchantment throws new light on Twain's America - and on Robert Coover's." - Garth Risk Hallberg, author of City on Fire
"In Huck Out West, Robert Coover brilliantly (and outrageously) revives Mark Twain's cardinal character by way of deconstructing any number of our cherished myths. Coover is in fine antic form here - truly, Huck never had it so good." - T. C. Boyle
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Robert Coover is the author of The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.; The Public Burning; and Ghost Town among many others. He is a pioneer in the field of electronic writing and ran the International Writers Project for endangered writers at Brown University. He lives in Providence, London, and Barcelona.
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