Prompted by the forthcoming publication of a sanitized version of Huckleberry Finn, I pondered Names We Don’t Say. Or maybe we do. In Tablet magazine this week.
…I was setting on the fence outside old Widow Douglas’s when — lackaday! — who should come tramping along but old Neighbor Jim, whose skin may have been dusky or it may have been pure as alabaster — I don’t knows on account of we never paid any attention to the color of man’s skin in the deep South.
“Why hello, neighbor Jim!” says I.
“Hello, Huckleberry Finn,” says Jim. “You will now notice that I speak with exaggeratedly precise diction.”
“That’s on account of all the schooling what apparently you retroactively is not prevented from having.”
“Correct,” he says.
“Huh,” said Jim.
I kicked the soles of my feet against the the fencepost. A fly buzzed by.
“How’s by you, neighbor Jim?”
“Why, everything is just perfect, thank you, Huckleberry Finn,” he said. “I enjoy all the same rights and liberties as anyone else, of course.”
It seemed like events were lacking a certain driving force or reality, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the missing thing in particular might be. Almost as if we was lacking a certain dramatic reason to be, or a plot, like they have in old timey books.
“…Say, Huckleberry Finn, would you like to go buy chinos at The Gap?”
“Would I!” I says.
Read the whole thing here.
PS. I also enjoyed the news that a Brooklyn writer has self-published a new version of the book in which the word “nigger” has been replaced by “hipster.”