Like the late great J.R.R Tolkien, it seems that Mark Twain's imagination will see the light of a publisher's day long after he passed on. The LA Times reports that his never-before-published story "The Undertaker's Tale" will see print next week, in the pages of the mystery quarterly The Strand Magazine. "Twain uses his razor sharp wit to pen a tongue-in-cheek tale about the funeral industry," says editor Andrew Gulli, "which could easily have been written today."
But Twain's story has less in common with the glossy "Six Feet Under" than something by Charles Dickens: It's got a dirty hungry wretch, who finds solace in the undertaker's home, and a wicked sense of humor. Cheerfully recollecting the undertaker's busiest season, his lovely daughter Gracie crows, "There was ever so much sickness, and very few got well."
The author, born Samuel Clemens, was widely published during his lifetime. But when he died in 1910, there was a tremendous amount of material that had never been shared. The publisher HarperStudio says he left behind "the largest collection of personal papers created by any 19 century American author" — it's where they found "The Undertaker's Story" and the rest of the contents of a new Twain collection.