Foreword Reviews

San Francisco Book Review

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The Ballad of Huck and Miguel breathes new life into Mark Twain’s most enduring and iconic character, setting the inimitable and indomitable Huck Finn loose in modern Los Angeles on an adventure every bit as thrilling, provocative, humane, and laugh out loud funny as the original. DeRoche channels Twain’s winking, laconic prose with effortless aplomb, but it’s what’s new about this timeless tale that makes it such an urgent and worthwhile read. DeRoche imagines the Los Angeles River as a dark, magical underworld inhabited by all sorts of extraordinary beasts and characters – a place where anything can happen. Above all this is a story about America through the eyes of an outsider and an immigrant. In short, through the eyes of those Real Americans too often and too easily overlooked. The text is illustrated with woodcuts by Daniel Gonzalez, who finds beauty and hope in the darkest, dingiest corners of the American dream. Together, DeRoche and Gonzalez have crafted a tour-de-force that captures the feral, beating heart of a mythical Los Angeles where Twain himself would certainly have felt at home.

MAX BORENSTEIN, screenwriter of Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla

A bully tale! The Ballad of Huck & Miguel channels the timeless voice of Huckleberry Finn to tell an engrossing and amusing adventure story for our times. It is an homage worthy of its inspiration, and I am sure Mark Twain himself would be right proud of the way DeRoche has modernized and maybe here and there even improved upon his original. DeRoche keeps what is best and most enduring about Huckleberry Finn—the timeless, unpretentious wisdom and un-miseducated insight—and brings it to bear on our contemporary pretensions and delusions, and tells a great and touching story, too.

DAN GREANEY, writer for The Simpsons and The Office

A thrilling reboot of a classic that, on the surface, is a magical urban adventure. But it’s also a clever exploration of the immigrant experience in America. The ballad awashes us with our past, our future, and a cogent understanding that, on the great river of life, there are many barriers, but no real borders.

GLORIA ROMERO, former Majority Leader of the California State Senate

More than 130 years ago, Mark Twain set Huckleberry Finn on a journey down the Mississippi River and deep into the American consciousness. It has been argued that the journey will never be over, since we’ll continue to be challenged by this story on so many profound levels as individuals and a nation. Captivating and compelling proof of this can be found in each chapter of The Ballad of Huck & Miguel, Tim DeRoche’s bold reimagining of Twain’s novel. DeRoche daringly transports Twain’s characters, themes, plot elements, and narrative voice to modern-day Los Angeles, managing to make this ongoing journey seem at the same time fresh and familiar—and, of course, incredibly relevant.

MARK DAWIDZIAK, Mark Twain scholar and editor of Mark My Words: Mark Twain on Writing

Daniel González’s lovingly detailed linocut illustrations mark not only Huck and Miguel’s vivid journey along the L.A. River, but also draw focus on a world where the lines in life—rivers, borders, boundaries in the street—remain freshly cut by ancient ghosts. González works within the wonderful tradition of printmaking that has produced some of the greatest artists of Mexico and the US. His work captures the beauties and dangers of a California that perpetually cradles the newcomer.

DANIEL HERNANDEZ, former Mexico City bureau chief for VICE

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