Friday, July 23, 2010

The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson: a 50-word book review

I started reading Pudd'nhead Wilson with an old paperback book and finished it on my nook e-reader after downloading the book for free from Project Gutenberg.

I wanted to review the book, and then I had the idea of adapting a classroom assignment to create a new form of book review: the fifty-word review. Not forty-nine or fifty-one words, but exactly fifty. Hitting the word count exactly would require precision, choice, and revision.

This review contains elements of the precis, but the precis, "a concise summary of essential points, statements, or facts," does not include opinion or personal evaluation, as does a review. However, concise and essential are definitely terms to take to heart.

What to include?
  • a sense of subject matter and theme
  • reference to character, setting, and conflict
  • a sense of value: an implied "thumbs up or down"
Here is my review. What do you think?

The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson
Mark Twain

Twain’s last novel addresses issues of personal identity and slavery. The book's plot, driven by a crime and the use of fingerprinting to solve it, is about two children, slave and white, switched as infants.  The devastating effect of slavery on both slave and owner is the novel’s true “tragedy.”
Copyright 2010 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


  1. Good idea, Tom. Will have to have a go at summarising mine next week when I have time.

  2. I like your review. And your idea. Wouldn't word for me. Too wordy!