Showing posts with label moby dick. Show all posts
Showing posts with label moby dick. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'M FINALLY DONE! Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Title: Moby-Dick
Author: Herman Melville
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 1851
Source: received as a gift many moons ago!

Summary from Goodreads

In part,  Moby-Dick  is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopedia of whaling lore and legend, the book can be seen as part of its author's lifelong meditation on America. Written with wonderfully redemptive humor,  Moby-Dick  is also a profound inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.

My Review:

Time to be corny!

Moby-Dick was my white whale.  (Ba-dum-ching!)

Seriously though.  FOUR months to finish it?  Oy vey.  But it is done.

Why did I feel such a compulsion to read this classic novel?  I'll chalk up a lot of it to the fact that I grew up in Connecticut.  Because of course, every Connecticuter (Connecticutian?) born before the early 90's has a deep, soulful connection to the HARTFORD WHALERS!
What can I say.  My little state does not get much in the way of professional sports teams, and then they TAKETH IT AWAY.  So sad.

Anyway, the other thing is that I'm specifically from southeastern Connecticut, very near Mystic, which is home to the Mystic Seaport, a "living history" museum that chronicles a lot of the whaling history of the region.  Any kid who grew up in southeastern Connecticut went on AT LEAST one field trip to Mystic Seaport while they were in school.  Which means you toured a whaling ship and learned a lot about...whaling stuff.  All very relevant to Moby-Dick, RIGHT?!?!?

So I'm sure these are all important reasons why I made myself hang with this book for the first third of 2015.

Honestly, as time-consuming as this book was, it really was not a bad read.  Yes, there are some boring parts.  There are entire chapters devoted to whale anatomy and the proper dismantling of a dead whale and other such valuable whale-type knowledge.  There is also a lot of soliloquizing.  These sailors really like to listen to themselves talk!

But beyond that, there is also an interesting story.  Captain Ahab--you've all heard of him, but the guy is truly bonkers.  His journey to find Moby Dick is crazy and arrogant and foolhardy, which makes for excellent reading.  If you've ever heard anyone talk about this book over the years (and you likely have), you pretty much know what's coming from page 1.  But to watch it unfold is entertaining.  Figuring out Ahab, his fellow sailors, and the twists and turns of the journey itself, is certainly enough to keep you engaged.

There's also a lot of deeper meaning re: the arrogance of man, duty/honor, etc. but I'll let you hit up SparkNotes for that.  :)

I'm not going to try to go any deeper in my review about a book that's already been reviewed (and essayed, and analyzed) a billion times.  The question is, is Moby-Dick a book that you should pick up right now?  As always, it depends on what you're looking for.  If you want a classic with lots of subtle meaning, something that moves a bit slowly but still has an engaging story behind it...and you can stand all of the long-winded sections about whale biology, then I say, go for it.  I'm happy that I was able to experience this novel, despite the time it took to complete.

Have you read Moby-Dick?  For an assignment, or for fun?  Like or dislike?

This book is part of my 30 Before 35 list...woohoo!  It was also a pick from my TBR Book Baggie, so I took this opportunity to choose the next book from my bag.  The next one will be...

The Interrogator by Glenn Carle!

Stay tuned, hopefully I will get to it soon!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thoughts on my "slow reading" of the classics...

I mentioned many (MANY) weeks ago that I started reading Moby Dick by Herman Melville.  This is a classic that's been on my TBR pile for a long, long time.  I even have a nice-to-look-at special Barnes & Noble hardcover edition to read.  I was excited to finally dive in!
I am going to fill this post with awesome Moby Dick jokes.
So I started it...and as with many classics, I moved slowly at first.  Older novels tend to be written in, well, older language, so it takes me a while to adapt to that style.  I didn't dislike it, but I couldn't fly through it the way I can with modern novels.

Then, when I was about 25% done, one of my book tour dates came up.  Okay, Moby Dick, move to the side for a moment.  I read the book tour book, and then picked up Moby again.

But then...oh wait!  A much-anticipated bestseller just went on sale, and I have an Amazon credit!  Just like that, the good ol' white whale takes a backseat while I gobble up another contemporary novel.

This cycle has repeated itself since December.  It is now March (OMG), and I still have about a quarter of the novel left to enjoy.

I don't dislike Moby Dick.  I mean, it's had some slow (okay, downright boring) parts at times, but overall, I do enjoy reading it.  So why can't I just bring myself to finish it?
Honestly, this happens to me a lot with classic novels.  I start them, and then take aaaaages to finish them (or don't finish them at all, as happened with Middlemarch...though let's all just agree that that book is the torture chamber of the literary canon).  Even the ones that I like, or that have a fast-moving plot, take me much longer than usual to get through.  Why, oh why?

I have usually justified this behavior by saying that I like to "slow read" my classics--really submerge myself in the (often outdated) language and styling, take my time working through it.  Plus, the extra brainpower that classic books sometimes require makes me feel like it's okay to interrupt my reading with a quicker, modern novel once in a while.

However, I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I believe there's more to it than that.  Saying I like to "slow read" these tomes makes my constant interruption of them sound almost noble, in some way.  But truthfully: I think I'm also just taking them for granted.

Because let's face it: classics aren't going anywhere.  No one's going to forget about Moby Dick tomorrow.  It's still going to be world-renowned.  They're still going to teach it in high school English classes.  People are still going to make references to it in casual conversation ("this project at work is my white whale!").  If I don't finish it today, it's okay--because there's a whole world of readers who will still want to talk about it tomorrow.

Newer books, on the other hand, don't have that feeling of longevity.  Yes, there are modern classics...but you won't know what books have that kind of staying power until their popularity has been proven in 5, 10, 20 years.  So I suppose that's why I feel the need to devour them so quickly.  Are people still going to be going gaga over The Girl on the Train in six months?  Is anyone going to care if I decide to read/review The Last Lecture this year, since that book is soooo 2008?  There's a feeling of immediate relevancy with newer books.  They're important today, but they may not be tomorrow.

Plus, sometimes you just have a favorite modern author that you know you want to keep up with.  Jodi Picoult, Stephen King, Jon Krakauer, etc are still publishing books, and I know I want to read them.  ALL OF THEM!  So I put down Moby Dick in favor of these new releases, because Melville's bibliography ain't goin' nowhere.  No keeping up for me to do there.

I feel guilty admitting that.  But 'tis the truth.  I love the classics, I really do--but sometimes I just can't resist reading the Next Big Thing.  Especially when it's by an author that I know and love.  There are only so many books I can read in my little lifetime, and it's HARD to prioritize sometimes. #readerproblems

What say you, readers?  Do you often interrupt your reading of classic novels in order to tackle some newer material?  Or are you faithful to reading one book at a time, new stuff be damned?
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