Sam, a Bostonian by birth, found a sense of solace in the powerful words of philosopher and writer Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau’s philosophical insights and the impact they had on figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, significantly enriched Sam’s life. Thoreau’s views on civil disobedience became a compass for Sam, directing him towards action in the face of stark injustices, albeit without upending the overall structure of the law. For Sam, Thoreau’s reflections on liberty hold merit, even in the context of contemporary society.
As Sam journeyed into adulthood, he found himself rekindling an old acquaintance with the poetic verses of Walt Whitman. Whitman’s quote from Leaves of Grass, “Battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won,” served as a beacon during challenging times. Whitman’s fervor for individuality, nature, divinity, and liberty deeply inspired Sam, illuminating his life’s journey. The publishing of Life and Adventures of Jack Engle in 2017 by the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review was a surprise that delivered immense joy to Sam.
While in Florida, Sam was reintroduced to the captivating narratives of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway’s dictum, “In order to write about life first you must live it,” was a testament to his life filled with constant exploits. Hemingway’s thrilling tales, from The Sun Also Rises to The Dangerous Summer, brought an adventurous essence into Sam’s otherwise “ordinary” life, transforming it into an exhilarating journey.
Since his participation in a school rendition of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Sam developed an enduring curiosity for Twain’s work. Over a century after Twain’s death, his influence persists not only in American literature but in the broader American culture. His easygoing literary style has left a significant mark on American authors, as Ernest Hemingway highlighted in 1935, “All modern American literature comes from a book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” Twain’s humor, still relatable today, can elicit laughter even from the most cynical readers. Guided by Twain’s advice such as “Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest,” Sam navigates his personal and professional life.