Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians
In 1885 Mark Twain began a sequel to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Though Twain subsequently published many books, he abandoned this novel in mid-sentence. Lee Nelson, author of western adventures, has dared to finish it.
For the first fifty-six pages we are regaled with Twain’s winking humor, his keen ear for dialect, and his grand storytelling skill. Huck, Tom & Jim have decided to go west in search of adventure. They travel with a migrating family and barely escape an Indian attack. Jim, a child, and a young woman are kidnapped. Tom & Huck follow in an attempt to save them … and Twain falls silent.
This is where Nelson takes over. Within a dozen pages, Nelson has the indomitable Tom Sawyer sobbing. Yes, sobbing. Nelson fills Huck with tingly feelings for the “violated” female captive. Gone is the dialect and the side-of-the-mouth humor. Nelson leads Huck across the country, where he comes in contact with a pedophile army officer, Mormon gunslingers, ex-slave “Injun” chiefs, dirty trappers – all the flotsam and jetsam of the mythic American West. This makes for entertaining reading … but it ain’t Huck Finn.
Here’s the problem: This book is neither fish nor fowl – not a full attempt to ape Twain’s style, nor a clean break into a fresh perspective. By attempting this project, Mr. Nelson has sat himself upon a fencepost and handed the critics guns. As Huck Finn might say, “that takes a lot of sand.”