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How to Tell a Story and Other Essays

Mark Twain

Book Overview: 

In his inimitable way, Mark Twain gives sound advice about how to tell a story, then lets us in on some curious incidents he experienced, and finishes with a trip that proves life-changing.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .d with himself, and has to stop every little while to hold himself in and keep from laughing outright; and does hold in, but his body quakes in a jelly-like way with interior chuckles; and at the end of the ten minutes the audience have laughed until they are exhausted, and the tears are running down their faces.

The simplicity and innocence and sincerity and unconsciousness of the old farmer are perfectly simulated, and the result is a performance which is thoroughly charming and delicious. This is art and fine and beautiful, and only a master can compass it; but a machine could tell the other story.

To string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they are absurdities, is the basis of the American art, if my position is correct. Another feature is the slurring of the point. A third is the dropping of a studied remark apparently without knowing it, as if one were thinki. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Above all, this was entertaining and fun to read out loud. Mark Twain really has a knack for knowing how to make a story aurally sound good.

Nice short essays that convey Mark Twain's belief on how to tell a humorous story, the American way. A quick and enjoyable read.

The stories are fun. The literary criticism shows why bad romantic novels and biographies are, well, bad.

Rather abrupt changes with little to no flow between them, although the anecdotes themselves are fine. It wasn't quite what I was expecting; I had assumed the "other essays" mentioned were essays about writing, when in reality they were just whatever Twain had thought of at the moment, including...more

cute or whatever.

I love Twain's humorous narrative style, but these essays and short stories are much ado about nothing, and quite frankly, boring. Nowhere near his best work.

Twain explains how to tell long, humorous tales.

A short book, but possibly one of the funniest I've ever read! I laughed nearly the whole way through, particularly at the story which Twain wrote concerning the Limburger cheese incident towards the end of the book. I'd recommend this one to anybody!

As a whole, this made for a nice time filler. Nothing blew me away but it had its charm.

There were some pleasant and unpleasant stories, mostly filled with Mark Twain's signature wit. I found the Golden Arm highly unpleasant, but otherwise I have no major complaints

I would...more

A wonderful little volume from one of American's finest writers. It was full of humorous stories and is quite instructive to anyone who desires to communicate better, and become a more compelling story-teller. Quite a quick read!

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