Here is a powerful argument for writers’ burning their papers — you’d like to be remembered for “The Innocents Abroad” and “Life on the Mississippi” and the first two-thirds of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and not for excruciating passages of hero worship of General Grant and his son Fred and accounts of your proximity to the general and your business dealings as the publisher of his memoirs, which only reminds the reader that the general wrote a classic autobiography, and you tried to and could not.
Think twice about donating your papers to an institution of higher learning, Famous Writer: someday they may be used against you.
Whatever, Keillor. Twain’s just released Autobiography is bigger than our couch. No joke. It’s so big we’ve been using “Huckleberry Finn” as a bookmark. It took scholars and people without Twitter accounts, decades to compile it. And it still feels shorter than five seconds of “A Prairie Home Companion.”
Still to call it “meandering” wouldn’t be unfair. Still worth the 100 year wait.