Play It Again, Samuel

Octomom is writing her autobiography. Snooki is writing her autobiography. Jay-Z is releasing a memoir that details the meaning of his lyrics. Celebrities with even less recognition than Octomom and Snooki and Jay-Z are writing their autobiographies.

Or, at least, someone is writing their autobiographies for them.

But no memoir has created the stir in the book world than the one which has zoomed to the top of the charts at online retailers such as, even though it won’t be available officially until Nov. 15. At 760 pages, it’s the first of a planned three-part autobiography that will be released within five years.

Or, in other words, one fewer volume than Tori Spelling has written about herself.

The author of this long-awaited book? A man who’s been dead for more than 100 years: Samuel Langhorne Clemens — Mark Twain to you and me. The same writer who once proclaimed, “biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man. The biography of the man himself cannot be written.”

The good folks at The Mark Twain Project have been working since 1967 at the University of California to bring together everything Twain wrote and, as he requested, publish his memoirs starting 100 years after he left this mortal coil in 1910. How difficult a task is this? Consider that the project has collected 2,300 of his handwritten letters between 1853 and 1880.

The man wrote a whole bunch.

Mark Twain, like Abraham Lincoln, keeps turning up in our popular culture. Both have been the subject of one-man shows on Broadway. Both have been guest stars in “Star Trek” series. There’s a mystique to the men that lasts in a way that seems unlikely to follow any of the politicians or provocateurs of today.

Although, the man who said “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please,” might feel right at home in today’s world.

Seriously, would you wait 100 years after her death to read Snooki’s memoirs?

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    Robert Galvin

    Robert Galvin has been with the Mail Tribune since 1999. When he's not writing this blog about pop culture, or his weekly television column (The Little White Dot) for ... Read Full
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