Bringing together 38 tales and sketches, The $30,000 Bequest provides a rare long view of Twain's work, covering virtually his entire career, from "Advice to Young Girls" (a spoof that appeared in 1865, just months before he achieved national acclaim for his "Jumping Frog" tale), to the title story, written in 1904. Whether he is probing the dynamics of a marriage in "The $30,000 Bequest," or tapping into the nature of hierarchies of abusive power in "A Dog's Tale," Twain's deft craftsmanship brings energy and life to his prose. The more preposterous his claim, the more diligent his proof--as in "The Danger of Lying in Bed," in which Twain argues--complete with statistics--that lying in bed (where most deaths occur) is more dangerous than traveling. The pieces collected here--alternately playful, poignant, and powerful--are all shaped by Twain's rich and unpredictable imagination. This book, the last miscellany published in his lifetime, captures the many facets of Mark Twain's work.