Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mark Twain, "A Restless Night"

The following tome is available as a free download from Google Books -- or, in newer printings at your local bookstore. I post it here so you can have a look at one of my favorites, "A Restless Night," which is a good model for an additional Exercise: call it your "insomnia story" (or poem), or more broadly, an improvisation on a singular theme: what's wonderful about this one is that Twain gets so much out of one little concept. Take up a simple gesture, problem, encounter, etc. -- go inside, and see how many ways you can twist and turn it. What other scenarios would work with this: "first dates," "homeroom," "the dentist," "playing hooky," "on the bus," "in the elevator" -- make a list until something strikes you.

It's worth noting that most of American humor (sitcoms, movies, humorists like Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck) comes from Twain and stories like this one. Look at old Lucille Ball sitcom episodes, or even contemporary TV fare, and you'll see the Twain DNA in it.

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