Picks and Pans Review: The Further Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

updated 09/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Greg Matthews

Classic that it is, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is not easy reading these days because of the country-boy dialect and cluttered plotting considered necessary back when the novel was published in 1884. But a patient reader can still get a first-hand sense of a certain era in America's past. There is also the Twain wit and, even more pleasurable, his observations about the nature of man—aphorisms that are still true and funny. But this first novel by a young Australian has the presumption to take up where Twain's classic left off. Huck's black friend, Jim, says such things as "Das a dandy plan, Huck. Is we truly goin' to do it?" What they do, when Huck escapes from jail where he's awaiting trial for the murder of Judge Thatcher, is head West to the gold rush. The whole book—500 pages of it—is written in that pseudodialect. The result is sometimes cute, but more typically unreadable. And there is no Twain wit or wisdom. It's like Early American-style furniture made of plastic laminate. (Crown, $15.95)

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