At Wired, Bruce Sterling reads Howells’s “American Literature in Exile.” A sample:
*It’s good to read Howell because he’s so secure in his own world. He’s properly dressed in his own Manhattan tie-and-tails; he’s not bitterly agitated, or preyed upon by bipolarity, like Clemens was. Howells is energetic without ever being antic. He gives the impression of a natural ruling-class figure who would likely do very well in the State Department.
*There’s a steampunk version of the Howells-Twain relationship where Howells is “M,” the master spy, the firm-hand-on-the-tiller, while Mark Twain is his brilliant yet reckless field agent, with a license to wander the world and kill off steampunk super-villains. I shouldn’t have said that, because now somebody’s gonna do it and get it all wrong; but, well, I’m in literary mode now, writing an Italian dieselpunk story, and the flights of fancy are proliferating out of control.