Huck Out West
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Our leading postmodernist novelist turns his iconoclastic eye to a great American classic in this sequel to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
At the end of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, on the eve of the Civil War, Huck and Tom Sawyer decide to escape “sivilization” and “light out for the Territory.” In Robert Coover’s Huck Out West, also “wrote by Huck,” the boys do just that, riding for the famous but short-lived Pony Express, then working as scouts for both sides in the war.
They are suddenly separated when Tom decides he’d rather own civilization than leave it, returning east with his new wife, Becky Thatcher, to learn the law from her father. Huck, abandoned and “dreadful lonely,” hires himself out to “whosoever.” He rides shotgun on coaches, wrangles horses on a Chisholm Trail cattle drive, joins a gang of bandits, guides wagon trains, gets dragged into U.S. Army massacres, suffers a series of romantic and barroom misadventures.
He is eventually drawn into a Lakota tribe by a young brave, Eeteh, an inventive teller of Coyote tales who “was having about the same kind of trouble with his tribe as I was having with mine.” There is an army colonel who wants to hang Huck and destroy Eeteh’s tribe, so they’re both on the run, finding themselves ultimately in the Black Hills just ahead of the 1876 Gold Rush.
This period, from the middle of the Civil War to the centennial year of 1876, is probably the most formative era of the nation’s history. In the West, it is a time of grand adventure, but also one of greed, religious insanity, mass slaughter, virulent hatreds, widespread poverty and ignorance, ruthless military and civilian leadership, huge disparities of wealth. Only Huck’s sympathetic and gently comical voice can make it somehow bearable.
- January 2017
- 6.7 × 9.6 in
/ 320 pages
- Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.
Endorsements & Reviews
“Huck Out West [is] the latest to emerge from this wild genius’s half-century outpouring of postmodernist books, stories, novellas and plays....Under Coover’s hell-hot pen....this pulsating anti-epic....establishes Huck in exactly the place Twain himself planned to take him.” — Ron Powers, The New York Times Book Review
“Magical....Among the many elements that Coover imitates so well is Twain’s misanthropy, his macabre sense of humor and his perpetually offended innocence....Indeed, everybody seems to be growing old except Huck, who remains a voice of perplexed kindness, and Coover, who, at 84, is still a miraculously sharp writer.” — Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Ask me if I’d like to read a sequel to Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and I’ll tell you no, unless, of course, it was written by the puckish myth-puncher Robert Coover….Coover’s Huck is understatedly wise, hilarious, and loveable.” — Jeffrey Gleaves, The Paris Review (staff pick)
“Mr. Coover has been one of the country's leading postmodernists. But Huck Out West doesn't deconstruct The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn so much as reprise it....as in Twain's original, the winsome humor of Huck's "muddytatings" lend the story a deceptive innocence.” — Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“An extraordinary book…a beautifully earnest and direct work from perhaps the most formidable trickster in American letters. Anyone with an ounce of heart in their chests should read this immediately.” — Alan Moore, author of Jerusalem
“A giant stands on the shoulders of a giant, and the view is large and giddying. In its vibrant skylarking and in its yearning undertow, this disenchanted enchantment throws new light on Twain’s America—and on Robert Coover's.” — Garth Risk Hallberg, author of City on Fire
“This latest from Coover, one of the most prolific remixers of America’s tall tales, fables, and myths, is both a tribute and a fitting postscript to Mark Twain’s canonical work….With the humor and wit of Twain, Coover punctures the American myth of Manifest Destiny and the fantastical tales we create to avoid understanding and empathy.” — Library Journal (Starred Review)
“Coover has something more than satire on his mind. Rather, he is out to deconstruct not a genre but American literary iconography....Coover effectively mirrors Twain’s style and Huck’s voice as well as the peripatetic movement of the original. More to the point, though, he is after consideration, or critique, of the narrative of westward expansion....This novel reminds us that the more things change, the more they stay the same.” — Kirkus (Starred Review)
“In Huck Out West, Robert Coover brilliantly (and outrageously) revives Mark Twain’s cardinal character by way of deconstructing any number of our cherished myths. Coover is in fine antic form here—truly, Huck never had it so good.” — T. C. Boyle
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