Mine. 46 years ago. The best, by far, of all my many efforts at being Melville's Confidence Man. "A Mute Goes Aboard a Boat on the Mississippi"

When I arrived in Berkeley in 1972 to go to law school with a duffel bag and nothing else and met the only woman in the world I have ever wanted to marry, she asked me if I was a Polish seaman off one of the break-bulk freighters that still occasionally docked at the Port of Oakland. (All gone now; only containerships.) Thinking about that reminded me of Melville's extraordinary work–which is nearly impossible to read now but remains the best single description of what this country has been and is. It was also the catalyst for the careers of my two favorite Americans - Ulysses Grant and Samuel Clemens.

I have successfully run the happiest of long cons on Susan and then our daughter and now her husband and infant son. With luck and the help of Almighty Providence I may last beyond these 74 years long enough to teach Whumpa how to drive stick.





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