Friday, April 27, 2007

Finn: A Novel by Jon Clinch

This is the story of Finn (the father of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn). This is an unrelentingly dark tale of a violent man and his impact on the world around him. It portrays Huck's father as a racist who lusts after black women and "steals" Huck's mother, keeping her a virtual prisoner, although in truth she has nowhere else to go. All of this is overseen by his family, much to the disgust of his even more racist father, "the Judge" and the sorrow of his brother. Although Finn is the more outwardly repulsive the novel slowly revels that the Judge is the more evil of the two.

After Huck is born, Finn softens briefly but soon slides back into his drunken world. As most stories of this type go, this all ends badly with everything Finn comes in contact with being damaged or destroyed. This is a brilliant novel but very difficult to read. I had to put it down several times. Also, the use of racist profanity throughout the novel was jarring and obscene. This is not a book for everyone but will probably make some best of year lists.

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