Thomas Hauser won me over very quickly. He opened he and Carlo DeVito’s discussion of Charles Dickens at Barnes and Noble by admitting he had great difficulty relating to the narrator of his latest, The Final Recollections of Charles Dickens: A Novel.
Back in high school, I had written a report that really stuck with me: mostly about how bad Dickens’ relationships with women were. It was part of my incentive to drag the whole family out of the house to make it to this talk, and I was pleased to hear some of my sentiments echoed in Hauser’s perspective.
Hauser had to go outside of Dickens’ personal life to his commitment to social reform in order to make him more like-able. This is where he and Carlo DeVito found their common ground, only in Inventing Scrooge, DeVito was starting off with a younger Dickens and, like the Ghost of Christmas Past, had a much easier time finding sympathy for the man in his rough beginnings.
Hauser came across as very serious. His humor seemed fairly studious as well: such as the long story about multiple Publisher’s Weekly reviews for his earlier Mark Twain Remembers with a nice payoff (and a good one for all writers trying to hold tight through review season to keep in their pockets). Due to the original publishing company going out of business, the book was reviewed twice. The first time, his writing and wit were rather negatively compared to Twain’s. The next go around, his writing was deemed “so smooth it’s impossible to tell which words are Twain’s and which Hauser’s.”
Like Hauser, DeVito had also written about Twain before Dickens, and the two gentleman scholars were laughing and trading stories in no time (Someone from the audience in even asked if they were friends before this event), but DeVito especially seemed like the kind of person who was good at establishing this kind of rapport.
If their books only had as many interesting facts as they gave in the half hour talk, they would be good reads. Some were so much fun, I’m tempted to start throwing some out now, but if you want to learn more about Dickens (or Twain)- these guys are the ones to hit up!
Ideal Date: A Mystery Science Theater style screening of multiple versions of the Christmas Carol