‘How To Cure A Cold’ by Mark Twain

How To Cure A Cold by Mark Twain, 1863

The magic trick:

Writing with an original voice and perspective

These early Mark Twain stories are pretty silly. They’re barely stories at all – more comic riffs, really.

But they have a voice. I’m not well-versed enough to say for sure whether it’s a purely original voice. Seems pretty original to me, though. It seems like the start of a particularly western American character entering the literary scene.

And that’s quite a trick on Twain’s part.

The selection:

The first time I began to sneeze, a friend told me to go and bathe my feet in hot water and go to bed. I did so. Shortly afterward, another friend advised me to get up and take a cold shower-bath. I did that also. Within the hour, another friend assured me that it was policy to “feed a cold and starve a fever.” I had both. So I thought it best to fill myself up for the cold, and then keep dark and let the fever starve awhile.

In a case of, this kind, I seldom do things by halves; I ate pretty heartily; I conferred my custom upon a stranger who had just opened his restaurant that morning; he waited near me in respectful silence until I had finished feeding my cold, when he inquired if the people about Virginia City were much afflicted with colds? I told him I thought they were. He then went out and took in his sign.

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