MY LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI OR WHY I AM NOT MARK TWAIN by Richard Bissell

MY LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI OR WHY I AM NOT MARK TWAIN

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Just take the fella's word for it -- he's not another Twain! So what if both were river pilots turned raconteur who wrote Lives on the Mississippi? Or grew up on the frontier? (""Faded ambitions and forlorn whistles in the dark"" -- the railroad, Bissell remembers, used to run to Dubuque). Or if Richard's Uncle Richard did buy Twain's old Connecticut mansion way back in 1903? -- he sold it later as a storage warehouse. Bissell loves traveling and hotels, his tattoos and chipping paint. (Twain hated it all -- can you imagine this fastidious man in enamel-flecked overalls, down upon his knees?) And buoys and bridges and all things floating -- ""A sunken boat is the saddest sight on earth"" -- the rafts, barges, houseboats, steamboats, dinghies, tugs, etc. which have drifted through his life since he poled his first handmade skiff down Catfish Creek at the age of twelve. Dockside there was stern-faced business magnate Dad (he ""hated Butler Bros., Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward and Franklin Delano Roosevelt about the same""), genteel Mother, witty wisecracking brother Mycroft, the gang ""half-crocked"" at the Hilltop where the drums boomed and couples sneaked out the door for petting orgies in the parking lot; ""East Dubuque was a snorter in those days."" ""It's hard to grow old, Huckleberry, and see the steamboats go down and the one cylinder Scheppele engines and the trolley cars."" Bissell (A Stretch on the River, 7 1/2 Cents, How Many Miles to Galena? etc.) muses, but scotch in hand and on the Connecticut River, he can still toss off tall tales from the poop deck.

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1973
Publisher: Little, Brown