Zoom April Book Club

April Book Club


Join us on Thursday, April 4 at 6:30 pm, with the author Thomas J. Reigstad to discuss his book Scribblin' For a Livin'

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About the Book

In August 1869, a thirty-three-year-old journalist named Samuel Clemens - or as he was later known, Mark Twain - moved to Buffalo, New York. At the time, he had high hopes of establishing himself as a successful newspaper editor of the Buffalo Morning Express in the thriving, up-and-coming metropolis at the end of the Erie Canal. In this engaging portrait of the famous author at a formative and important juncture of his life, Thomas J. Reigstad--a Twain scholar--details the domestic, social, and professional experiences of Mark Twain while he lived in Buffalo.

Based on years of researching historical archives, combing through microfilm of the Express when Twain was editor, and even interviewing descendants of Buffalonians who knew Twain, Reigstad has uncovered a wealth of fascinating information. The book draws a vivid portrait of Twain's work environment at the Express. Colorful anecdotes about his colleagues and his quirky work habits, along with original Twain stories and illustrations not previously reprinted, give readers a new understanding of Twain's commitment to full-time newspaper work.

Full of fascinating vignettes from the illustrious writer's life, as well as rare photographs, Scribblin' for a Livin' will appeal to Mark Twain enthusiasts, students and scholars of American literature, and anyone with an interest in the history of Western New York.

About the Author

Tom Reigstad is a fourth-generation Buffalonian, an English professor, and a journalist. After graduating from high school and college in his native city, he attended graduate school at the University of Missouri, where he first learned of Twain’s late 1860s affiliation with Buffalo. After working as a journalist in the Army, Tom returned to Buffalo to continue working as a journalist and to teach writing and literature. He has published widely on Twain’s Buffalo phase and has presented at international Twain conferences. 

He is an award-winning Emeritus Professor of English at SUNY College at Buffalo, where for 26 years, he worked within steps of a fireplace mantelpiece that once was part of Twain’s home in Buffalo.  Tom was a feature writer and copy editor at the Buffalo Courier-Express, whose forerunner, The Buffalo Morning Express, was the newspaper co-owned and co-edited by Twain from 1869-1871. He was also a copy editor at the Niagara Falls Gazette, which gave him an opportunity to explore and write about Twain’s nineteenth-century ties to Niagara Falls. In the mid-1990s, Tom was associate editor of Bills Insider, the official magazine of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, whose editorial offices were housed in the carriage house and on the site of Twain’s former Delaware Avenue mansion in Buffalo. 

Mindful of these personal connections, Tom has dedicated a good chunk of his professional career to investigating Twain’s association with Buffalo. Along the way, he has become friends with descendants of Buffalo residents who knew Twain well and has unearthed archival photos, documents, and drawings that shed new light on Twain’s domestic and journalistic lives in Buffalo. Tom has also discovered several original Twain stories from The Buffalo Express that have never been reprinted in book form. 

Tom earned a B.A. in English at SUNY Buffalo, an M.A. in Literature from the University of Missouri, an M.S. in English Education from Canisius College, and a Ph.D. in Composition/Rhetoric from SUNY Buffalo.

Tom resides in the Buffalo area and, in retirement, continues to teach American  Literature and Twain courses at SUNY College at Buffalo.


April Book Club