11 July 2010

Hop on the Twain Train

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." - Mark Twain

This quote has popped up on my iGoogle homepage many times in the last week or so. Twain could not have hit the nail on the head any harder. (Ah, clever clich├ęs, how you never grow old.)

Twain stamped his mark on my memory and literary endeavors when I read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court last summer. I had read reviews that it isn't his best work, but it was quoted in Dexter (yes, TV shows are where I get my reading inspiration from, but, be honest, who doesn't do this?), so I decided to give it a shot.

The novel wasn't outstanding, but what did get me was the message Twain was going for and the way he wrote. His diction is superb and there are moments of pure perfection in this novel. Unlike famous authors of today whose writing falls far short of being inspirational or erudite, but lands rather in the "Fun, Candy, Beach Reading" category , ie Stephenie Myers & Charlaine Harris*, Twain's writing is elegant and purposeful. I don't find myself chuckling over his poor sentence structure or pathetically obvious imagery, but in awe of the beauty that he creates with his combinations of 26 letters and every day punctuation.

Minus his bow tie being a little limp, he wasn't half bad
looking and had a great head of hair.

Twain is just one of many authors whose writing I and, as evidenced by his fame, the general population find to far surpass others who call themselves "writers". Take the time on your lunch break, weekend, train ride home, any free moment to give Twain and other famous authors a chance at inspiring you. You might be surprised at how easily a message meant for the 19th Century can apply to the 21st.

*I will fully admit to reading and enjoying the Sookie Stackhouse and Twilight series novels.

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