Mark Twain, as you probably know, was a very famous writer. He was very well known, and he was very rich. But he was a very depressed man. This shines through clearly in his autobiography.
In the beginning of the autobiography he relishes in the fond and sunny memories of childhood. But as you progress into the book, you start to wade deeper and deeper into the muddy swamp. He was a very skeptical kid, and he carried that throughout his life. When he was a kid in school he prayed for a piece of gingerbread that the teacher had. Of course, the gingerbread didn’t lift off the desk and fly to him, so he lost all faith in religion.
He talks about several instances in his childhood and early teens. About the minstrel shows and the hypnotist and the swings that broke. He talks as though he wished he were a kid again, for although he had a successful life in the material sense, Mark Twain was not happy. He missed something in his life. Something that was just beyond the reach of his fingertips. And that something was love.
When he was little, he hungered for love. You could see it. His father died early, so he only had a little of a father’s love growing up. And his mother, although she loved him, seemed somehow distanced. He talked about a childhood sweetheart who wrote him years later asking for money. He remembered her because he had been in love with her. He was like a parched desert, but the water rarely fell.
Twain’s autobiography is very disjointed. It is as if he took a bunch of stories, tossed them up into the air and put them into the book in whatever order they fell in. It is vital in any book, fiction or non-fiction, to have some sort of order in the book. It can be a chronological order, or the order of importance or any other order; but the important thing is to have order. Without it a book becomes random, difficult to read and sketchy. You don’t get a clear picture of the person or thing you are reading about. In a way, Mark Twain’s novels were a bit like that. The man shone clearly through his writing, and that deterred me from reading any more than I had to.