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

4.1 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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: 3.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have always enjoyed Mark Twain's books. Mainly because he understood the basic principles of storytelling, more than trying to sound overly-intelligent, he wanted to sound like someone who you wanted to talk to everyday. I've read this book three times now. Thanks Kindle for making me forget to download more books before heading into a non-wifi area of the mountains. The main points I have always taken from Twain are, don't alienate your audience, don't think too high of your vocabulary ability when making a simple point and enjoy living life so you can tell enjoyable stories about life. This book is no different. It makes you laugh some and makes you think about yourself inside. That's a trademark of Twain.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very short and entertaining. He starts out by giving you his lesson and then tells a brief comic story to illustrate how not to tell a story, because he finds it more obnoxious than funny. It his helarious. He then tells his own story whose main point is to trick you. He never says the point of the story. It is subtle and entertaining.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A quick read and entertaining too. I had never seen any of this except for the final story. That last one is a bit gruesome for children but a good laugh for the mature reader who understands the historical setting.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was hoping for more on how to tell a story, but maybe seeing how Twain actually tells a story is enough. If you have a short time and want to hear the voice of a master, spend a little with these essays.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A quick and entertaining read. Five short stories, one of which I have heard a variation of before. I put it on my Kindle cellphone app for reading when I am waiting somewhere with nothing else to do. I love Mark Twain and have his complete works somewhere, but that one is not so portable.
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