Samuel Clemens, who is said to have taken his pen name Mark Twain from the cries of riverboat crewmen, found the inspiration for his classic works while growing up in the river town of Hannibal, Mo. Today, more than 125 years after the first pressing of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, there's a new set of artistic characters in Twain's boyhood home.
Linguist Geoffrey Nunberg wants people to take his new book, Ascent of the A-Word, seriously.
"I'd meet people when I was working on the book, and even academics — they'd say, 'What are you working on?' and they'd giggle. Or they'd say, 'You must have a lot of time on your hands,' " Nunberg tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, as we've kicked off our coverage of the Republican National Convention this week, we've asked a number of our guests what a successful country looks like to them. I'll explain why I'm asking that in my Can I Just Tell You essay. And that's coming up in a few minutes.