“My name is Tommy Blanks. Or at least that’s close enough to the truth for now. I’ve found in the last few years that some lies are nearer to what’s true than most of us ever expect to come, anyway. So I don’t draw too many hard or fast lines between what’s imagined and what’s recollected. Sometimes what we dream up is real enough to live with and turns out to be the story of our lives. Our lies may turn out to be what was true all along.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m no liar unless I’m forced to be. I’m just not sure what the truth is sometimes. And at other times there seem to be so many truths. Who can tell what’s what? I can only guess, for instance, why my father disappeared or why I ran off across the country when I had every good reason to stay right where I was. But if I hadn’t gone, I would never have gotten to California and met Welcome William Ward. That’s where I met up with what I was running from, and deep down inside I know I was fortunate it caught up with me when it did – before I got lost entirely and fell so far I couldn’t find my way back. I can’t even tell you for sure why my great-great-grandfather’s journal and his friendship with Sam Clemens were so important to me. Every once in a while you come across a story that’s not about you but is anyway, and that’s how my great-great-grandfather’s journal felt to me. I’ve traveled a lot in the past few years to come to these conclusions. It seems as if you have to go a long ways to see what’s right in front of you. Sometimes you have to step back far enough to shake the blurriness from your eyes.
Most of my life up until the last couple of years hadn’t been action-packed. I’d lived inside my head more than I had in the physical world, I think. I’d gotten used to spending a portion of each day reading or simply daydreaming, but then my mother died, my father disappeared, I got arrested, fell in love, and went on a cross-country journey in search of Mark Twain.”