I wrote this book, which is dedicated to—"those moments of extreme loss, without which all our blessings would seem meaningless," to reflect on the passing of my own father. Like the deceased father of the protagonist Huck, he was always my "real" best friend.
I fell in love with a show on ESPN called The World series of Poker, even though I was never a big card fan. In this show you could ride along with the poker players and their decision making by seeing their cards through a hidden camera. Added to this was the great personalities of so many different players—nasty ones, kind ones, loudmouths, and others. The show is great drama, punctuated by the call of ALL IN! That is a situation in which the player shoves all of his chips to the middle of the table and stands up ready to leave in case he should be defeated. The last of the seven cards dealt in the Texas Hold'em game is called "the river." And the first thought that jumped into my mind when I heard this was that of Mark Twain's character Huck Finn, living on a river raft. Hence, the name of the protagonist here is Huck Porter. In paying tribute to Twain, I also borrow from his great work, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by mirroring some of its scenes, like Huck asking about what they do all day long in heaven, Huck sitting in church, and using some of the names from that novel. The editor and I argued over the book's ending. But I stuck to my guns and gave you what I think is the right one, with Huck learning from everything that happened to him, yet never losing that combative edge of a poker player.