Finn

Finn

by Jon Clinch
4.3 34

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Overview

Finn by Jon Clinch

In this masterful debut by a major new voice in fiction, Jon Clinch takes us on a journey into the history and heart of one of American literature’s most brutal and mysterious figures: Huckleberry Finn’s father. The result is a deeply original tour de force that springs from Twain’s classic novel but takes on a fully realized life of its own.

Finn sets a tragic figure loose in a landscape at once familiar and mythic. It begins and ends with a lifeless body–flayed and stripped of all identifying marks–drifting down the Mississippi. The circumstances of the murder, and the secret of the victim’s identity, shape Finn’s story as they will shape his life and his death.

Along the way Clinch introduces a cast of unforgettable characters: Finn’s terrifying father, known only as the Judge; his sickly, sycophantic brother, Will; blind Bliss, a secretive moonshiner; the strong and quick-witted Mary, a stolen slave who becomes Finn’s mistress; and of course young Huck himself. In daring to re-create Huck for a new generation, Clinch gives us a living boy in all his human complexity–not an icon, not a myth, but a real child facing vast possibilities in a world alternately dangerous and bright.

Finn is a novel about race; about paternity in its many guises; about the shame of a nation recapitulated by the shame of one absolutely unforgettable family. Above all, Finn reaches back into the darkest waters of America’s past to fashion something compelling, fearless, and new.

Praise for Finn
“A brave and ambitious debut novel… It stands on its own while giving new life and meaning to Twain’s novel, which has been stirring passions and debates since 1885… triumph of imagination and graceful writing…. Bookstores and libraries shelve novels alphabetically by authors’ names. That leaves Clinch a long way from Twain. But on my bookshelves, they'll lean against each other. I’d like to think that the cantankerous Twain would welcome the company.”
USA TODAY

“Ravishing…In the saga of this tormented human being, Clinch brings us a radical (and endlessly debatable) new take on Twain’s classic, and a stand-alone marvel of a novel. Grade: A.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“A fascinating, original read.”
people

“Haunting…Clinch reimagines Finn in a strikingly original way, replacing Huck’s voice with his own magisterial vision–one that’s nothing short of revelatory…Spellbinding.”
WASHINGTON POST

“Meticulously crafted…Marvelous imagination…The Finn of Clinch’s novel is certainly a racist villain but also psychologically disturbed and disconcertingly compelling.”
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

“From the barest of hints in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Clinch has created a fully believable world inhabited by fully realized characters. Clinch treads dangerous ground in making one of America’s greatest novels his jumping-off point, but he brings it off magnificently…The language of this book is one of its great beauties…Finn is far from one-dimensional, and that is another beauty of the book. Clinch has a knack for putting us squarely inside the heads of his characters….Clinch draws as compelling and realistic a picture as any we’re likely to find…Finn stands on its own. The richness of its language, the depth of its characters, the emotional and societal tangles through which they struggle to navigate add up to a portrait of life on the Mississippi as we’ve never before experienced it.”
dallas morning news

“His models may include Cormac McCarthy, and Charles Frazier, whose Cold Mountain also has a voice that sounds like 19th-century American (both formal and colloquial) but has a contemporary terseness and spikiness. This voice couldn’t be better suited to a historical novel with a modernist sensibility: Clinch’s riverbank Missouri feels postapocalyptic, and his Pap Finn is a crazed yet wily survivor in a polluted landscape…Clinch’s Pap is a convincingly nightmarish extrapolation of Twain’s. He’s the mad, lost and dangerous center of a world we’d hate to live in–or do we still live there?–and crave to revisit as soon as we close the book.”
newsweek

“I haven’t been swallowed whole by a work of fiction in some time. Jon Clinch’s first novel has done it: sucked me under like I was a rag doll thrown into the wake of a Mississippi steamboat…Jon Clinch has turned in a nearly perfect first book, a creative response that matches The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in intensity and tenacious soul-searching about racism. I wish I could write well enough to construct a dramatic, subtle and mysterious story out of careful, plodding and unromantic prose, but for now I’m just happy to have an alchemist like Jon Clinch do it for me.”
BOOKSLUT

Finn strikes its most original chords in its bold imagining of possibilities left unexplored by Huckleberry Finn.”
austin american-statesman

“An inspired riff on one of literature’s all-time great villains…This tale of fathers and sons, slavery and freedom, better angels at war with dark demons, is filled with passages of brilliant description, violence that is close-up and terrifying…Everything in this novel could have happened, and we believe it… so the great river of stories is too, twisting and turning, inspiring such surprising and inspired riffs and tributes as Finn.”
new orleans times-picayune

“A triumph of succesful plotting, convincing characterization and lyrical prose.”
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS

“Shocking and charming. Clinch creates a folk-art masterpiece that will delight, beguile and entertain as it does justice to its predecessor…In Finn, Clinch expands the bloodlines and scope of the original story and casts new light on the troubled legacy of our country’s infamous past.”
new york post

“In Clinch’s retelling, Pap Finn comes vibrantly to life as a complex, mysterious, strangely likable figure…Clinch includes many sharply realized, sometimes harrowing, even gruesome scenes…Finn should appeal not only to scholars of 19th century literature but to anyone who cares to sample a forceful debut novel inspired by a now-mythic American story.”
atlanta journal-consitution

“What makes bearable this river voyage that never ventures far beyond the banks is the compelling narrative Clinch has created. He writes exceedingly well, not with the immediacy Twain imbued to Huck's voice, but with an impersonal narrator’s voice that almost perversely refuses to take sides. And the plot is masterful.”
fredericksburg freelance-star

“Disturbing and darkly compelling…Clinch displays impressive imagination and descriptiveness…anyone who encounters Finn will long be hautned by this dark and bloody tale.”
hartford courant

“Jon Clinch pulls off the near impossible in his new novel, Finn, which brings Huck's dad to life in all his terrible humanness…Clinch vividly paints the origins of the amazing Huck...powerfully told.”
winston-salem journal

“Gripping…he inventively remaps known literary territory…the descriptive riffs are lucent.”
chicago tribune

“The best debut so far of 2007.”
men’s journal

“Inventing Huckleberry Finn’s father using only the thin scraps of information that Mark Twain provided is a pretty admirable feat, and reading Jon Clinch’s first novel provides an almost tactile pleasure…Clinch clearly respects Twain, but he doesn’t feel especially cowed by his inspiration, and some of his inventions qualify as genuine improvements on the original text.”
washington city paper

“In this darkly luminous debut…Clinch lyrically renders the Mississippi River’s ceaseless flow, while revealing Finn’s brutal contradictions, his violence, arrogance and self-reproach.”
Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“Bold and deeply disturbing. . . A few incidents duplicate those in Twain,
but the novels could not be more different; instead of Huck’s unlettered child’s voice,
we have an omniscient narrative, grave, erudite and rich in the secretions of adult knowledge;
terse dialogue acts as an effective counterpoint. All along, Clinch’s intent is to probe the nature of evil . . . a memorable debut, likely to make waves.”
KIRKUS REVIEWS, STARRED review

“Every fan of Twain’s masterpiece will want to read this inspired spin-off, which could become an unofficial companion volume.”
LIBRARY JOURNAL, STARRED review

“This is a bold debut that takes a few tentative steps in tandem with the familiar Twain,
but then veers off dexterously down a much more insidious, harrowing path.”
BOOKLIST

“Jon Clinch’s first novel Finn…succeeds wonderfully because its gritty lyricism is at once authentic and original…reminiscent at times of Cormac McCarthy…the eloquence of the telling will never make the courageous reader wish for a gentler touch. Like any appealing novel, Finn achieves the force of a dream with fascinating actions, indelible characters and spellbinding language. Its author is wily, astute and wise… Finn is a challenging and rewarding exploration of the suffering human heart. From the ominous shadow that was Pap Finn, Clinch has fashioned an unforgettable, twisted man and a marvelous novel.”
ROANOKE TIMES

“Next month Clinch makes his publishing debut with Finn, taking up where Mark Twain left Mr. Finn 120 years ago: dead in a room surrounded by such mysterious oddities as a wooden leg, women's underclothing, and two black cloth masks. It’s a great read.”
–Knoxville News Sentinel

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780692885345
Publisher: unmediated ink
Publication date: 05/06/2017
Pages: 324
Sales rank: 301,128
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

A native of upstate New York and a graduate of Syracuse University, Jon Clinch has taught American literature, has been creative director for a Philadelphia ad agency, and has run his own agency in the Philadelphia suburbs. His stories have appeared in John Gardner's MSS. magazine. He and his wife have one daughter.

Hometown:

Harleysville, Pennsylvania

Date of Birth:

September 12, 1954

Place of Birth:

Oneida, New York

Education:

A.B. in English, Syracuse University, 1976

Customer Reviews

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Finn 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
About this time last year, I was looking for titles to pitch to my book club and came across Finn. I can't remember where I saw it, but it was a staff pick at one of the indie stores. The staffer had a lot of good things to say about it, but I was skeptical. I was intrigued by the premise, but doubtful. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a timeless classic so I wasn't interested in reading anything that would taint my memory of it. However, if the author chose to build upon it.well, that I could see. That's exactly what Jon Clinch does. Here's a passage from The Adventure's of Huckleberry Finn as said, by Jim: It's a dead man. Yes, indeedy; naked too. He's ben shot in de back. I reck'n he's ben dead two er three days. Come in, Huck but doan' look at his face-it's too gashly. The actual passage is quite a bit longer, but Clinch takes that passage and fills in the details to create Finn, which in and of itself, is its own story. Admittedly, the first half of the book is a bit monotonous. Finn is a simple man on the surface. He spends most of his day fishing, only to trade his catch for whiskey later. The daily routine of a drunkard can be a tad repetitive but in sharing this with us, Clinch gives us a feel for who Finn is. In between these drunken episodes, there are moments of clarity. Moments where Finn shows compassion, or pity.or even intelligence but there are also moments of pure hatred and viciousness. His behavior is almost animal-like in nature, and he is brutal at times. As for his relationship with son, Huck.there is love there, but there is also a "what can he do for me?" attitude which is brought to our attention early on. Finn's strength is the ability to immediately assess a situation, to determine what's in it for him. This rings true for his interactions with several of other characters as well, and there are many wonderful characters in this novel. Finn takes from each of them, what he needs at that exact moment. Although Clinch remains true to the classic, he does take some liberties with Huck as we know him. I wasn't sure how I felt about them, but by the end of the story, it all felt right to me. As far as the actual writing, the story is told out-of-order, and as the story progresses, the pace quickens and each chapter becomes shorter in length. This format was incredibly effective and had me eagerly turning each page to see how the story ended. As the days pass, I find myself thinking about the complexity of such a story and how Clinch managed to pull it off.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clinch is an English Teacher's dream student. I have not read a book this enjoyable in years. His descriptions of the Mississippi and its environs are so descriptive. You can smell the fish. The characters are so easy to imagine in the minds eye. The reader has no idea where the story is going. Great read!
Anonymous 5 days ago
It maytake a while to fall into sync with Clinch's pacing. I initially experienced fogginess in understanding the plotline due to the timeshifts and Cinch's method of developing details by sandwiching scenes out of sequence. That challenge to the reader pays off with a rewarding total experience after total consumption of the story. As this intelligent novel progressed, the puzzle became a satisfying picture much clearer as you realize you were not spoonfed on purpose. His method sparks intellect and displays an artistry to the written word. I finished with the feeling that I had experienced a novel as classic as Twain's. Robert Frost
Anonymous 5 months ago
Well written beautiful prose, intriguing story and characters
Linda84 More than 1 year ago
I found this book at the Goodwill store and didn't start reading it for awhile. Once I picked it up I totally enjoyed it and found it hard to put down.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MarktwainCT More than 1 year ago
John Clinch did a great job with this book.I found it written in the Mark Twain fashion I'm used to.It will compliment my Mark Twain collection very nicely
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Ever wonder what might have happened that cause Huck Finn's pap death, from the novel by Mark Twain? Now your wait is over. In this amazing tale by Jon Clinch named Finn. The main character being Huck's dad Finn. Throughout this novel Clinch is able to create Finn through his own point of view. Much like Huckleberry Finn Clinch writes about Finn's journey in life. Such as the struggle he went through, the adventures, problems with alcohol, and Finn's way of raising Huck. In Finn's adventures he faces much trouble with the law and much more. He also has many problems with his dad and "wife" with having disagreements. Finally, the death of Finn was very unexpected but expected at the same time. Who was his mystery murder? Reading Finn by Jon Clinch will astonish you, and will get very interesting. Clinch sets the novel in the 1800 when slaves and black were inferior to whites. A very interesting time period that Clinch's chooses, because it helps add more drama and suspense to the reading Clinch accomplishes all this by his descriptive words and images that make you feel like you were really there. Which increases theme of death and abusive relationship. In the end Jon Clinch wrote a great novel to bring Finn's character come out. I recommend this novel to all.
lcutty More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, though it is often disturbing. Mr. Clinch does Mr. Twain justice, in recomposing a wonderful, classic tale. The characters are gritty, the landscape so real and the dialogue (or lack there of) is brilliant. This book is not for everyone, but I think the ravenous reader will really appreciate this work of art.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just the writing itself is delicious, refreshingly literary. On top of that, the layers Clinch has added to Huck Finn's story are amazing, and he keeps it plausible, albeit challenging perhaps because of what we have been conditioned to think. Huck remains himself and is explained-not directly, but through circumstances. Pap himself is very complex, I found myself rooting for him to keep it together at times. Excellent, believable characters, mood, description, reactions of characters to events, yet much of the power of this book lies it what is left unsaid. A book for real readers. Might have blown Mark Twain's socks off. Must, must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In a time when we are surrounded by shallow thinking and weak ideas from the leaders of our country to the people that control the entertainment industry, whose big ideas come from cartoons and comic books, this skillfully written debut novel from Jon Clinch seems to have slipped through the static and will surely rise to the top. FINN is a masterfully written, in-depth study of the complexity of the human condition. Clinch ingeniously uses the clues from TwainÕs masterpiece to flesh out the dark, brutal tale of Pap Finn. Clinch stands on the shoulders of Mark Twain and reaches lofty heights. Twain would have been proud.