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How to Tell a Story And Other Essays Paperback – October 1, 2013

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About the Author

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion's newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, before heading west to join Orion. He was a failure at gold mining, so he next turned to journalism. While a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, which proved to be very popular and brought him nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling. He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker. His wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. However, he lacked financial acumen. Though he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures, in particular the Paige Compositor, and was forced to declare bankruptcy. With the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers, however, he eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain worked hard to ensure that all of his creditors were paid in full, even though his bankruptcy had relieved him of the legal responsibility. Born during a visit by Halley's Comet, he died on its return. He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age", and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature".
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 24 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 146369864X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1463698645
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Harold Pohl on January 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In the primary essay in this small book, with more misdirection than modesty, Mark Twain starts by saying he does not claim to know how a story should be told but knows a good one when he hears one. Now he's talking about "humorous" stories, the kind Americans can tell, and not the comic or witty stories that Englishmen and Frenchmen tell. The mark of a good humorous story is in the art of its telling and not in the subject matter, as are those told by foreign storytellers. The beauty of this essay is that after aquainting the reader with the technique of telling a good American humorous story, he presents a sample that proves his opening disclaimer false, by telling such a story to perfection, and by giving the reader the illusion of hearing it told aloud on a stage, as he was noted for. Alas, it is a story told in dialect that probably cannot be read by some today for its humor, but I think there is a spirit in it that transcends today's objections and believe that all Americans can revel in the good humor of the mentality behind this story.

The other essays in this book are also good examples of the work of 19th century America's greatest storyteller and wit.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bear on February 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
The book is only a few pages long. At first glance I'll admit, I felt chinced. Then, I began to read and understand why his work is considered American classic. (Knowing what I know now, I would've paid twice as much for this book). Twain's astounding wit comes through in this book as concentrated power with an organic and soulful feel. This book will take you on an albeit short, but magical journey through the culture of americana.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Craig L Miller on December 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mark Twain shares his insights and humour in this brief set of stories. His mind continues to brighten our world.
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By Lanise Brown on January 27, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
How to Tell a Story and Other Essays by Mark Twain is a short, quirky, and informative book that briefly discusses the mechanics of comedy and humorous storytelling. Twain was one of the masters at writing humorous stories, and in his book he expresses a view on differences between humor and comedy.

Twain's book is interesting until midway through when he goes off on a tangent about believing he's "telegraphic" or telepathic. I'm not sure where that psychic curve ball came from, but the middle of the book seems to be there just as filler, or some random thought from Twain's stream of consciousness.

Then the book ends with a humorous short story about a man, a coffin full of guns, and a rank Limburger cheese. It's one of the funniest stories I've read in some time. So, I have a mixed opinion about this book.

It's worth the read if you admire Twain's other writings or might be interested in a quick quirky piece. It's not worth a read if you're expecting this to be another masterpiece of literature. Overall, How to Tell a Story and Other Essays is an unusual book about humor... and telepathy. It's interesting that's for sure.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If anyone knows how to tell a story it is Mark Twain. Combining humor and beautiful language this essay is a great read: education and give insight into this great man's mind.

This Kindle book includes
* How to tell a story
* The wounded soldier
* The golden arm
* Mental telegraphy again
* The invalid story

How to tell a story starts with Mark Twain's famous disclaimer "I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told, for I have been almost daily in the company of the most expert story-tellers for many years."

He uses the four stories to illustrate his points about story telling.
For example, his premise is that a humorous story does not have a purposes, it can go on and on as long as it is funny. The Wounded Soldier story demonstrates this point. He explains how to delivery a story with pauses and noises using The Golden Arm story to illustrate.

This book is a quick and easy read. And I could not wipe the smile off my face either.

Ali Julia review
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By sheldon on July 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great classic book, I am loving that amazon has these for free and am trying to collect them all.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although it is not a Mark Twain classic, it is well worth reading. The book's style and presentation made me feel like I was seeing Twain in the theater one of his tours.
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By Robert Catchpole on July 2, 2014
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Good read
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