neighbors water their lawns withnlong loping sweeps of a hose.nThey used to sleep with thenfront door open and the screenndoor held with a simple hook.nThey used to listen to the radio,nand sometimes on Sundaysnthey’d take one of theninterurban trains out to thenbeach for a picnic.nThe mimicry here may be a little toonclose for comfort.nBetter is Parker’s Chapter 20, for mynmoney his best writing in this book.nThere he more than imitates Chandlern— he recreates him. Mariowe’s guiltynforay into a sleazy saloon and his manipulativenflirtation with a barfly seemnto echo some of Chandler’s most powerfulnpages, ones in which he tanglesnA MATTER OF TRAININGnIt is depressing to reflect, jTrom thenperspective of 1989, that lohn S’. Tuckeyncould write (in his Mark Twpin andnLittle Satan, 1963) of the author oiThenAdventures of Huckleberry Finn that, inncomposing the nihilistic fantasies thatnpreoccupied him toward the close of hisnlife, he in effect denied “that art mustnhave access to nature, must nourishnitself on reality, must have matter asnwell as form” — that he ended his life atnsuch a remove from his formative ex-‘nperiences of Hannibal and VirginianCity, Nevada, as to impel him to redirectnhis genius toward making/’somethingnout of nothing.” The creator ofnHuck Finn the literary precursor andnadumbrator of Samuel Beckett andnKurt Vonnegut! The sad truth is that tona degree he was — and yet he did not gonjoyously into that dark night of.the soul,nnor could he ever acquiesce in it absolutely.nIn an essay published only weeksnbefore his death in 1910, he declared:n”the scene of the real turning point innmy life (and yours) was the Garden ofnEden.”nThe subject of Twain’s deepeningnpessimism in the last decades of his lifenhas been a major one for critics andnbiographers for more than eighty years.nIn Mark Twain and Science: Adventurenof a Mind (Baton Rouge: LouisiananState University Press; 224 pp.,n$27.50), Sherwood Cummings hasnproduced a fascinating study explicatingn40/CHRONICLESnwith rummies in Farewell, My Lovelynand The Lady in the Lake. Parkernexcells with the poetry of disgust, andnuses one of Chandler’s signaturenwords — “smeared” — showing thisnreader that his understanding of Chandlerngoes deeper than superficial imitation.nIt’s all there: the knightly imagery,nthe gigantic house or castle rememberednfrom the beginnings of The BignSleep and The High Window, thenflashy figures of speech like “She gotnsome wine in. She was drinking it as ifnthe four horsemen of the Apocalypsenhad been sighted in Encino.” Yet thennecessary emphasis on Marfowe’s maritalnconflicts takes us away fromnstrength and toward weakness. Chandlernhimself questioned whether Marlowenshould or could ever marry — itnREVISIONSnwhat he calls the writer’s “major intellectualnproblem, both as a private personnand as an author”: namely, “thatnbefore acquiescing in the world view ofnmodern science he had established indissolublenloyalties, first to a theisticnworld view and later to a deistic one.”nIn middle age. Twain himself averrednthat, “the religious folly you are born innyou will die in, no matter what apparentlynreasonabler religious folly maynseem to have taken its place meanwhilenand abolished and obliterated it.” As itnhappened, Mark Twain lived longnenough to discover how simplistic thatnformulation was, at least in its applicationnto himselfnIn his 75 mortal years. Twain livednsuccessively through four separate andndistinct cultures — Calvinistic, Deistic,nevangelical Christian, and post-nDarwinian-scientific— in each ofnwhich he was imaginatively and intellectuallyninvolved; these cultures, Cummingsntells us, “laid down incompatiblenstrata in his mind.” Moreover, as henmoved from one culture into the next,nhe found himself temperamentally incapablenof sloughing off certain assumptionsngained from the one, even asnhe was eagerly embracing contradictorynassumptions acquired from the other.nAs he moved deeper into contemplationnof the human condition, he concluded,nfirst, that the Creation was innfact vile; later, in order to exorcise thenrevulsion this idea caused him, he decidednthat human behavior was determinednby infrangible laws of nature tonnnwould be “quite out of character,” henwrote in the year of his death.nAnd so it is. Robert Parker’s continuationnof a project that Chandler himselfnmight have abandoned if he hadnlived longer is a shrewd and professionalnone. Poodle Springs is definitelynworthwhile for anyone in the marketnfor a detective story — it’s enjoyable,nentertaining, and satisfying. But it doesnnot evade a flaw inherent in the projectnitself: its central action is a first-ratenrecreation of second-rate Chandler —nthe Chandler who wrote the LindanLoring passages from The Long Goodbye,nPlayback, and the first four chaptersnof Pooc//e S/)nngs.n/.O. Tate is a professor of English atnDowling College, on Long Island.nsuch a degree that moral judgmentsnwere simply beside the point. Experfly,nCummings shows how Twain set thesenconflicting ideas, feelings, and assumptions’inndramatic opposition in hisnnovels as well as in his other writings,nundercutting and contradicting himselfnas he moved from one project to thennext; never, despite the intellec.tualnfrenzy in which he approached thenimpasse at the end, achieving eithernintellectual reconciliation or simplenpiece of mind. The story is’ beyondnbeing a sad one. It is a synedoche fornthe real American Tragedy; arid thenroot of it, one is drawn to conclude, is ancertain failure of training. – ‘nMark Twain’s famous gingerbreadnstory — of how as a child, assured by hisnfirst teacher that whosoever prayed for anthing earnestly and with desire wouldnbe given that thing, he prayed forngingerbread; failed to receive it; andnconcluded from the experience thatn”the X and all other religions are liesnand swindles”—was no doubt facetiouslynintended. Nevertheless, the conclusionnhe drew from the world in hisnmaturity — that the existence of slavery,nthe caste system, and other evils precludednthe existence of Cod, and certainlynof the Christian God — is hardlynless naive. To judge from the case ofnMark Twain at least, the schools andnchurches of Hannibal, Missouri, circan1840 were no more adept at conveyingnthe concept of Original Sin — andnother traditional theological ideas —nthan their counterparts are today. (CW)n