Since she was in fourth grade and a teacher read the whitewashing chapter from "Tom Sawyer," Cindy Lovell, Ph.D., has been mesmerized by Mark Twain.
Lovell is now the executive director of Twain's boyhood home and museum in Hannibal. She will be giving a presentation on "All Things Twain: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Mark Twain" at 7 p.m. today at Missouri River Regional Library.
Twain is still Lovell's favorite author and she said she enjoys sharing her vast knowledge of the legendary Missouri author with visitors to the home and others across the state.
Twain was not just a talented writer, he was a truth teller, Lovell said.
"He despised hypocrisy, and he was a devoted father and husband," she said. "He was 100 percent American, and in the very best sense. He grew up in a slave-holding town in a slave-holding family yet he unlearned the biases and prejudices taught to him in childhood to gift the world with "Huckleberry Finn.' He represents the best of what we are as a nation."
Lovell will give a presentation to help gear up for the Oct. 21 Capital READ event with author Jon Clinch. Clinch wrote the book "Finn," which discusses the aspects of Huckleberry Finn's father that have never before been seen or spoken about.
Noting that she cannot speak for Twain, and says it is not her place to imagine his reactions, Lovell said she cannot help herself.
"I think that Mark Twain would be thrilled that so many authors are still writing about him and his characters, and he'd likely be asking for his share of the proceeds. Mark Twain gave us so many amazing characters, some that he fully developed into main characters, like Huck and Tom, of course. But there are background characters whose stories beg to be told," she said.
"I enjoyed reading "Finn,' even though the character is dark and even freaky. It's not my place to imagine how Twain would have critiqued the book, but I can't help myself. So, yes, when I see a book or a film I can't help but imagine how he'd feel about it. "Finn' is a great concept - writing the story of Huck's father. But I do think Mark Twain had something else in mind entirely when he wrote about Pap Finn."
"Finn" is an American Library Association Notable Book, and was named one of the year's top novels by the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Christian Science Monitor. It was also short-listed for the National Book Critics Circle's first-ever Best Recommended List and the Sargent First Novel Prize.
For more information on either event, call Claudia Schoonover at 634-6064, ext. 245.