Channeling Mark Twain: A Novel and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$3.99
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Good | Details
Sold by CWJBOOKS
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: exlibrary hardcover book in good shape, mylar library jacket with usual library marks and stamps. shows some reader wear
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Channeling Mark Twain: A Novel Hardcover – July 3, 2007


See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$1.39 $0.01

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on the current pick, "Landline" by Rainbow Rowell.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; English Language edition (July 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375509275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375509278
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,446,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Occupying a seat on a Riker's Island–bound bus crowded with menacing, diamond-studded pimps is just another day in the life of Holly Mattox, the self-consciously attractive newlywed protagonist of Muske-Dukes's fourth novel. Set in 1970s New York City, the novel follows Holly as she becomes increasingly, and perhaps dangerously, involved with the female inmates who attend her jailhouse poetry workshops. Undeterred by the catty disapproval of her literary contemporaries, Holly forges on, leading a class of bickering inmates, including mentally disturbed Billie Dee, transgendered Gene/Jean, God-fearing Darlene and fragile, heavily sedated Polly Lyle Clement, who claims to be the great-granddaughter of Mark Twain. (Twain also, Polly claims, speaks through her.) An affair with fellow scribe Sam Glass threatens Holly's young marriage as Polly gets thrown into solitary for her possible involvement in another inmate's jailbreak. The jail administration wants Holly to extract information from a delusional Polly, but Polly could be crumbling too fast for Holly to save her. Prisoners' poems appear throughout and afford a sometimes hilarious, sometimes stark look beneath the inmates' grizzled exteriors. Fiction with a political conscience often sacrifices craft in favor of driving home a message, but Muske-Dukes pulls it off.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Poet Holly is propelled by a "lifelong near-diabolical desire to make all things right." It's the mid-1970s, when such good intentions are often undermined by naive politics and hubris, but this blonde from the Twin Cities puts her beliefs to the test by teaching a poetry class in the women's prison on Rikers Island. As Holly tries to win the trust of her seen-it-all students, she realizes that they have plenty to teach her. Conversations with a famous Russian poet-in-exile (a thinly veiled Joseph Brodsky) also prove revelatory. While he was imprisoned for the crime of being a poet, her students are locked up, basically, for being female, black, and poor. Ribald and outspoken, funny and resilient, they have endured horrific if all too common abuse. Two possess unusual powers. Akilah Malik is an Angela Davis–like radical, and mystic Polly Lyle Clement claims to be channeling her great-granddaddy Mark Twain. A compassionate poet as well as a mythically inclined novelist, Muske-Dukes is spellbinding in her precision and invention as she pays haunting tribute to women who hold fast to their humanity under the most barbaric of circumstances, while celebrating poetry as a liberating force. Seaman, Donna
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jaime Reyes on July 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've just finished bingeing on Carol Muske-Dukes's brave, new fourth novel "Channeling Mark Twain." In terms of sheer hunger-inducing suspense, Muske-Dukes's book rivals Jim Crace's recent delectable fairy tale, "The Pesthouse." For its stick-to-the-ribs cast of characters, Muske-Dukes wins the Alice Waters/Thomas Keller Award, with the wondrously seasoned brisket of Yiddish freak show eccentrics in Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" not far behind.

But comparisons are odious, and so is my food analogy! "Channeling Mark Twain" is unique, a thing of beauty -- and, I believe, a joy forever. From its initial pages introducing us to 20-something Minnesotan-cum-Manhattan poet, Holly Mattox, riding a bus to New York City's penitentiary on Rikers Island, this book rocks. Throughout, Muske-Dukes's ear for dialogue is spot-on, including her rendition of the pre-hip-hop 1970s jive of pimps visiting their whores in prison.

Muske-Dukes takes us beyond security gates for a jailbird eye's view of the slammer. Holly Mattox, unlike Capote's Holly Golightly, is a coming-of-age character more interested in poems than breakfast at Tiffany's. Holly's mission is to teach poetry to women behind bars and thereby free their minds, if not their bodies, from jail. With wry humor and plenty of compassion, Muske-Dukes introduces us to such cameo convicts as Baby Ain't, Never Delgado, and Akila Malik.

Ordinarily in novels, classroom scenes are boring. Muske-Dukes's scenes of poetry classes in prison are riveting, not least because of the way she focuses on each con's "story"--how she ended up in the "joint"--and how each story turns into a poem. The anthology of prisoners' poems printed at the end of several chapters is tremendously evocative.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A poetry reader on July 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
CHANNELING MARK TWAIN is a completely absorbing novel. I especially liked the scenes about
teaching -- which is often treated elsewhere as something trivial or a matter of mere duty, but here it's understood as urgent, necessary work. When the central character of this book teaches imprisoned women to use language to shape their own meanings, she's giving them a tool to help them to live, to help them move towards personal power and toward freedom. These scenes are unsentimental, totally convincing, and make for very compelling reading. You can tell this writer's been there.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on August 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For many poetry is obscure, vague, tedious, and trying. But for poets, poetry is the highest form of human expression capable of imparting great feeling, joy, and understanding - transforming. Such is the feeling of Holly Mattox, recent post-graduate and poet, who arrives in NYC in the 1970s with her sometimes husband K.B., a hospital resident doctor, to write poetry, participate in radical politics, and attempt to make a difference in the lives of the oppressed, namely female inmates at Rikers Island, by teaching a poetry workshop.

The book is highly autobiographical as the author did conduct poetry workshops at Rikers for a number of years. The gritty reality could hardly be more palpable: the intimidating presence of the pimps monitoring the exit of the prison for ho's, the no-nonsense female correctional officers, the stark reality of steel, bars, etc. And then there are the women in Holly's class - most all of whom having led precarious lives as prostitutes, drug runners, or victims of domestic abuse with highly detrimental impacts on their psyches. The author captures the contrast of a privileged white girl leading a class of these underprivileged women writing meager, ungrammatical, though intensely personal, poems concerning their train wrecked lives. There is the interesting, but improbable, character of Polly Clement who claims to be the great-granddaughter of Mark Twain and can quote at length from his works, especially Huckleberry Finn.

Holly is a bit of a an uncertain and naïve character. She is a radical who grows disenchanted with a women's group that talks the game of helping the oppressed. She feels compelled to live the life that was cut short for her mother in the dust storms of the Dakotas in the 30s.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard Cumming on July 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Muske-Dukes taught poetry to the women who were incarcerated at Riker's Island circa 1973-83. This fictional rendition of a woman's story who is teaching at the same time in the same place has many autobiographical moments to be sure. Muske-Dukes merges her superb poetic talent with an imagined life that is quite like one she once knew well.

The inmates in her class are the dregs of society. The author makes them appealing, even loveable, almost. They are damaged souls and the poetry that they write is the distilled essence of pain and dead ends. The title of the book alludes to a mystical set of circumstances that is truly the delight of the novel. The character Polly could be the most appealing fictional creation you meet in quite some time.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By artfulusedbooks on November 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Carol Muske-Dukes taught poetry workshops at the Women's House of Detention at Rikers Island between 1973 and 1983. This book is a novel based upon her experiences. As her heroine, Holly, takes a bus out to Rikers, the reader gets a sense of the isolation & the danger of this place. The well-intentioned Holly sees some of the dangers but continues without fear; she is braver than I ever hope to be. She meets the inmates who will participate in the class on pp. 15-20. (I needed to refer to this section several times to keep the characters straight.)

The first 2/3 of the book set the stage for dramatic events that begin to take place around p. 190 & continue until the end of the book. The title is the gigantic clue that Polly Lyle Clement (the woman who channeled Mark Twain) will become a central part of the story, not just another student in the class.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Search