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Ermahgerd. Berks.

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Caliban's War
James S.A. Corey
The Shining Girls

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Penguin Classics)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain, Guy Cardwell, John Seelye As a child, nothing terrified me more than being lost. My parents found this hilarious. Every time we went on a road trip, my dad would wait a few hours and then start moaning that we had somehow gotten lost. "We're looost! We're looost!" he would wail, and in the backseat I would immediately start bawling. My vivid memories of this suggest that the fear grabbed me long after I should have been old enough to realize that a little kid can't really be lost while with his parents, let alone that you can't really get lost in any meaningful way in a car in the U.S. (well, maybe spiritually).I don't know if this is a universal kid fear, but I think with me, it stemmed from this book. More specifically, from the Fisher Price audio production, which I listened to so many times I had large swaths of it memorized ("Tom Sawyer is a tale of imagination and wonder, told especially for you... from Fisher Price!"). And this thing was 90 minutes. The part where Becky and Tom get lost in McDougal's Cave was the most harrowing thing I could imagine, even though in retrospect it was probably really ridiculous, what with all the boys clearly voiced by adult women and the oddly didactic dialogue ("Oh Tom, the candle's almost out. Oh Tom, it's going out. Tom, it's out! what will we do, Tom?"). And like being lost in the dark wasn't enough, "Engine" Joe was in there too! (I don't know if it's because I never saw the word in print but it wasn't until I was in my teens that I finally realized what his name was, and what it meant). When my family went to Disney World when I was about five, we visited the Tom Sawyer's Cave attraction. My dad, ever the gentle and loving parental figure, decided to taunt me first by moaning that we were lost, and then by saying that Injun Joe was going to get me. This incident I don't remember, but my mom assures me there was a lot of loud screaming. Everyone, including the people in line behind us, thought it was very, very funny that I was scarred for life. I suppose the idea of being terrified while at a sanitized place like Disney World seems a little amusing. Except in the Hall of Presidents, which is certifiably creepy. I'd actually never read this before, and it's just delightful. So much of it has become iconic, but it's still quite an endearing portrait of the idealized boyhood, the way the mundanities of life seem to stretch out into elaborate adventures and when sitting next to the girl you like is an experience all its own. I read Huck Finn in high school like everyone else, and though it's a great book, this one is just more fun to read. It is very episodic, more a series of adventures than a cohesive narrative (and Tom certainly has a busy summer... mine rarely involved witnessing murders or being threatened by murderers), which is probably why it is such an enduring and popular read for children.It's pretty amazing how much of the book Fisher Price was able to fit into that tape. I think only a few sections weren't represented, and all the big ones (the cave, the treasure hunt, the funeral scene, the pirate adventures) were vividly familiar when I finally read them. Of course, I'm sure it's missing a lot of Twain's color and subtle, underplayed humor, and I'm also sure it would sound a lot less impressive if I listened to it again. Which fortunately I can probably never do because even though I still have the tape, I haven't owned anything that will play it in about five years.