Finn by Jon Clinch
A Novel

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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.

About Jon Clinch

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Born and raised in the remote heart of upstate New York, Jon Clinch has been an English teacher, a metalworker, a folksinger, an illustrator, a typeface designer, a housepainter, a copywriter, and an advertising executive. Teaching and advertising took him south to the suburbs of Philadelphia for many years, and only with the publication of Finn, his first novel, was he able to return to the kind of rural surroundings he'd loved from the start: This time, in the Green Mountains of Vermont. He is married to novelist Wendy Clinch, and they have one daughter.
Published February 20, 2007 by Random House. 306 pages
Genres: History, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Finn

Kirkus Reviews

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Bad as he was in Twain’s masterpiece, here Pap Finn has ballooned into something far worse: “Incarnate personal evil.” Clinch eschews a linear narrative, looping back and forth between time periods;

Dec 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Finn: A Novel

The New York Times

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Finn, even though he came of age in his father’s declamatory-rich white mansion, remains stuck with the ignoramus-ruffian diction Mark Twain gave him — minus the rough poetry: “This ain’t no social call” and “The boy belongs to me” and “I know it.” And, “I know it.” And, “I know it.” That phrase ...

Mar 11 2007 | Read Full Review of Finn: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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In this darkly luminous debut, Finn, the namesake of the title, is not Twain's illustrious Huck, but Huck's father, "Pap."

Dec 18 2006 | Read Full Review of Finn: A Novel

Book Reporter

In THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, we see Huck's father through the boy's eyes.

Mar 11 2008 | Read Full Review of Finn: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Jon Clinch's ravishing first novel, Finn, opens as a flayed human cadaver floats down the Mississippi River ''in the late summer of the year, at a stately pace, as if its blind eyes were busy taking in the blue sky piled dreamily deep with cloud.'' All questions about this corpse will eventually ...

Feb 16 2007 | Read Full Review of Finn: A Novel

Suite 101

Rhoda and Samuel each have problems but together they could be successful..

Aug 25 2010 | Read Full Review of Finn: A Novel

USA Today

Jon Clinch's Finn is a brave and ambitious debut novel inspired by Mark Twain's masterpiece, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.It fully imagines the life of Huck's violent, alcoholic and bigoted father.

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Open Letters Monthly

Drawing from both his studies and his adulation, Clinch has now written Finn, in many ways an impressive, although compromised, fashioning of the world that might exist outside the pages of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Jan 06 2010 | Read Full Review of Finn: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

Some readers of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn have speculated about the identity of Huck’s mother and wondered what sort of woman would have been intimately involved with Huck’s degenerate brute of a father, "Pap" Finn.

Aug 07 2007 | Read Full Review of Finn: A Novel

Creative Loafing

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: The story of Finn, the man Huck called "Pap," and Twain's original lock together neatly, wit...

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