Twain Redux Review of Robert Coover's Huck Out West.

Huck Out West Mark Twain Robert Coover True West
Huck Out West by Robert Coover.

Robert Coover tackles the impossible in Huck Out West (W.W. Norton, $26.95), a sequel to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that puts Huck, Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher and ex-slave Jim in Dakota Territory in 1876.

Huck Out West Mark Twain Robert Coover True West
Robert Coover’s Huck Out West, a sequel to Mark Twain’s classic Huckleberry Finn, takes Twain’s fictional characters Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Becky Sawyer, who Twain (above, left) based on his childhood friend, Anna Laura (Elizabeth) Hawkins Frazer (above, right).
— Courtesy Library of Congress —

Huck, who has already done just about everything a fictional Westerner can do, runs afoul of General Hard Ass (aka George Custer). Coover, known for being unorthodox and anti-everything, elicits an occasional smile, but his use of dialect (of which Twain was the master) proves annoying.

Worse, though, is Coover’s malevolent treatment of Tom and Becky. Would Twain be seething? Twain himself once started a sequel that had Huck and Tom among the Indians, but showed the good sense to shelve that project. Coover should have followed suit.

—Johnny D. Boggs, author of The Kansas City Cowboys.

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