I'm really looking forward to finishing this book. Clemen's prose is so nearly perfect (not necessarily dotting 'i's and crossing 't's, but how he says what needs to be said) that, in some places, I have to stop and marvel.
Here are some quotes I found to be oh so blissfully Twainian:
[Early Years in Florida, Missouri]
Most of the houses were of logs - all of them, indeed, except three or four; these latter were frame ones. There were none of brick, and none of stone. There was a log church, with a puncheon floor and slab benches. A puncheon floor is made of logs who upper surfaces have been chipped flat with the adze. The cracks between the logs were not filled; there was no carpet; consequently, if you dropped anything smaller than a peach, it was likely to go through. The church was perched upon short sections of logs, which elevated it two or three feet from the ground. Hogs slept under there, and whenever the dogs got after them during services, the minister had to wait till the disturbance was over. In winter there was always a refreshing breeze up through the puncheon floor; in summer there were fleas enough for all. (p. 64)
[About General Grant's Memoirs]
[The General] told what I have before related about the robberies perpetrated upon him and upon all the Grant connection by this man Ward [that story is just one of the fascinating vignettes in the book], whom he had so thoroughly trusted, but he never uttered a phrase concerning Ward which an outraged adult might not have uttered concerning an offending child. He spoke as a man speaks who has been deeply wronged and humiliated and betrayed; but he never used a venomous expression or one of a vengeful nature.
As for myself I was inwardly boiling all the time; I was scalping Ward, flaying him alive, breaking him on the wheel, pounding him to jelly, and cursing him with all the profanity known to the one language that I am acquainted with, and helping it out in times of difficulty and distress with odds and ends of profanity drawn from the two other languages of which I have a limited knowledge
[Grant] told his story with deep feeling in his voice, but with no betrayal upon his countenance of what was going on in his heart. He could depend upon that countenance of his in all emergencies. It always stood by him. It never betrayed him. (pp. 82-83)
[About His Relationship with the Sculptor Karl Gerhardt]
I may as well say here and be done with it that my connection with Gerhardt had very little sentiment in it, from my side of the house, and no romance. ... I told him in the first place that if the time should ever come when he could pay back to me the money expended upon him and pay it without inconvenience to himself, I should expect it at his hands, ... that that act would leave him free from any obligation to me. It was well all round that things had taken that shape in the beginning and had kept it, for, if the foundation had been sentiment, that sentiment would have grown sour when I saw that he did not want to work for a living in outside ways when art had no living to offer. It had saved me from applying in his case a maxim of mine that whenever a man preferred being fed by any other man to starving in independence he ought to be shot. (p. 87)