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Robin Field is one of a handful of narrators (Grover Gardner, Norman Dietz, Richard Henzel, Patrick Fraley) who can almost always be trusted with Mark Twain. Here he presents a series of sketches, essays, newspaper satires, and stories that I believe Twain himself gathered together under the "New and Old" title. They demonstrate a broad range of Twain's talents - and include some of his choicest targets.
This is Twain in his pleasantest mode. Over the course of his life he wrote a number of bitter, pessimistic essays, but they aren't in this collection: most of the pieces in this volume are humorous and self-deprecating, if not downright silly.
There are brief banjo riffs between each piece, and one sketch that includes a drunken piano player/singer in full sail.
I enjoy Field as a narrator, but even a short and funny collection like this gives him scope for his worst habit. When it comes to quotations and footnotes, Field is extremely formal: nothing is quoted without its "Quote. Close Quote" tags; no footnotes are read without their "Note. End Note" tags. Not everyone will find fault with this - some will be grateful - but I prefer a looser approach. It doesn't happen often here, but when it happens, it interrupts the flow, and to my way of thinking it damages the pace.
But on the whole I enjoyed listening to it, and found myself wanting to hear more short prices by Twain. Robin Field and Richard Henzel seem to be working on this, and between them there may eventually be a number of such titles to choose from.
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