Fabulous Fiction Firsts #55

Finn* by first-time novelist Jon Clinch, is an imaginative reconstruction of the life and death of Finn, Huck's father, "Pap.".

In Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck and Jim find Pap Finn's body in a house floating down the Mississippi River, among such oddities as women’s underclothes, a wooden leg and two black cloth masks, and the walls covered with “the ignorantest” kind of scrawling.

Shunned by his father, Adams County Judge James Manchester Finn and his successful brother Will, Finn is a violent, bigoted, ne’r-do well drunk, and often in trouble with the law. He blames his black sheep status on his on-again, off-again relationship with his black mistress, the mother of his pale mulatto child, also named Huck.

Working from a few tantalizing hints in Mark Twain's text, Clinch not only fleshes out the shadowy figure of Huckleberry Finn's father but creates clever and plausible backstories for the likes of Widow Douglas and the Thatcher family, and all the while, following Twain’s lead – allows the Mississippi to play a prominent role in the unfolding tale. Highly recommended.

* = Starred Review