The last two posts quoted an obscure Mark Twain piece on writing. I came upon it in an odd manner.
I read Pudd’nhead Wilson some years ago. It isn’t funny like Tom and Huck; instead it gives a merciless look at slavery during Mark Twain’s youth and a very angry version of Twain’s view of human behavior. Later I found that there was a related story called Those Extraordinary Twins. To get a copy of that rarity, I went to Gutenberg, and found the piece I have been quoting.
When I say Gutenberg, I don’t mean the man, or the printing press, or the bible printed on it. Project Gutenberg is a source of 46,000 free e-books which are in the public domain. These can be downloaded in a number of formats. Personally, I procured the Kindle app from Amazon so I could read on my desktop computer.
These books are in the public domain, so you usually won’t find modern authors. There is no Heinlein, but you will find one story by Asimov. Presumably some bureaucratic snafu caused him to lose the copyright. This happens more often than you would think, so don’t assume the author you want won’t be there.
Gutenberg books are not restricted to any subject, but were all “previously published by bona fide publishers”. You will find both E. E. Cummings and E. E. Smith.
You can Google Gutenberg and go to their homepage to find out more about them, but the URL you will want to bookmark is www.gutenberg.org/catalog/. That will take you directly to the overview where you choose a letter out of either the authors or titles list. Click on T in Authors and you will get to a scroll list from Lou Tabakow to Sarah Tytler with Mark Twain somewhere near the bottom.
If you download Those Extraordinary Twins, the explanation/stand-up-routine on writing is in the preface, but Twain doesn’t call it a preface. Just read what he writes before he gets to Chapter One.