Monday, June 14, 2010

Huckleberry Finn Fans Forget to Read Their Source Material

Found at, a tale of why fiction and reality are very separate things:

"Dreaming of a Huck Finn-style adventure on the Mississippi, a young couple are instead afoul of the law."

Claire Boucher and William Gratz had their sights set on the southern reaches of the Mississippi River when they packed their chickens, a sewing machine and 20 pounds of potatoes into a houseboat they crafted from scratch.

Strangers gave them bikes, a mattress and the sewing machine (powered by on-board batteries). They got a copy of Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," which neither of them had read.

Reading doesn't inspire bad ideas, at least not when people are so good at coming up with them on their own. I wonder if they thought the original text had something to do with chickens and potatoes? And I just can't place the sewing machine.

But I guess they get a couple literacy points for naming their boat, which now "rests next to burned-up and smashed car carcasses," after Daniel Clowes's surreal graphic novel, Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. The comic is a good read, but I don't think snuff films have much to do with boating down the Mississippi.

One of my favorite parts of the article involves park police officer Rob Mooney who tried to convince the couple to buy "life jackets, paddles and other supplies" when he first found them. I think it's pretty obvious they didn't do much research before their journey. A week later, he returned to give them "citations for camping and alcohol consumption in the park." He actually seems pretty sorry about having to do it:

"I love the idea of the Tom Sawyer adventure," Mooney said. "The problem is it's not 1883. You can't do that anymore. You have to follow the rules."

All I have to say is follow your dreams, kids, but not when it means breaking the law over getting drunk on a homemade boat.