Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain by Roy Morris, Jr.

Library Journal

Samuel Clemens went west in 1861, and Mark Twain returned east six years later with the growing reputation of being a writer who rarely let the facts get in the way of a good story. Using letters, diaries, and reminiscences, Morris, author, journalist, and editor, pieces together the facts to show how an unemployed riverboat pilot became a self-made writer. Morris comments that separating fact from fiction in Twain’s case is more or less a full-time occupation. Morris is the editor of Military Heritage magazine and has served as a consultant for A&E Network and the History Channel. By relying on primary sources, he tracks Clemens’s personal, professional, and artistic transformation. Details include the development of Twain’s style including use of the vernacular, a love of the ridiculous, and a stinging wit to transform true-life situations into some of the most memorable stories of frontier life. Fans of Twain’s writing and academics will enjoy this well-researched biography. VERDICT A noteworthy addition for American literature and biography collections.