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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 103.
- Review Date: 2010-04-26
- Reviewer: Staff
In his first book, Beahrs uses the palate of America's great humorist and satirist to celebrate and explore native foodstuffs and even make the case for him as a passionate locavore. Though the author follows Twain's life and literary works along loosely chronological lines, he ranges deep into a personal and journalistic agenda. The book intersperses Beahrs's firsthand experiences, such as observing Illinois prairie chickens in mating season and attending an Arkansas raccoon supper, with Twain's gastronomical record. The sheer breadth of Twain's travels and jobs permit discussion of such 21st-century topics as the far west's Great Basin water reclamation and cranberry bog expansion with historical developments like the invention of “modern” farm machinery and its impact. The author's upbeat tone doesn't dodge the darker side of his hero, entertainingly entwining more commonly known biographical facts with the surprising (who knew the author of Tom Sawyer once sought cocaine?). Beahrs frequently interrupts the narrative with historical culinary asides about dishes like oyster ice cream, but his passion and scope of detail are bracing. (June)