The Boy in His Winter

Written by Norman Lock
Review by James Hawking

Huckleberry Finn floats down the Mississippi without aging until the early 21st century, when he encounters Hurricane Katrina. Arrested for his inadvertent involvement in a marijuana smuggling operation, he is incarcerated as a juvenile and inexplicably begins to age until 2077. Throughout, Huck writes like a graduate student, which he explains by saying, “I have smoothed out like a wrinkled pair of pants after the hot iron has done its work.” When he represents Jim’s speech, he explains that the dialect disappears because of his imperfect memory. Historical events like a Civil War naval battle receive less attention than Huck’s philosophical musings about fate or his resentment of Mark Twain. Huck remarks that Jim is not the simpleton Twain portrayed him as, but the relationship between Huck and Jim, the core of the original book, never really comes alive. Jim goes ashore in 1960 only to be lynched, and Huck travels down to New Orleans without him.

The years between 2005 and 2077 involve Huck’s career as a yacht salesman and his involvement with a woman who wins the Caldecott Medal for a book also called “A Boy in His Winter.” At one point Huck tells us “Listen: Every writer wants to write at least one time-travel novel in his or her life.” It would have been better if Lock had fought this urge. Not recommended.