My Saga With the White Whale

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I know – just finish that damn book already! I was about to give up on Moby Dick after about 350 pages. I was ready to bring it back to the library, but I was feeling guilty and I knew if I returned it, I would never go back and re-read those 350 pages. Then I was talking to a co-worker who was raving about a book she read that talked about Melville’s research for writing the book and I started Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends and he mentioned it as one of his favorite books. I figured I better just quite whining and start reading. The thing is, I really enjoy the book. Melville certainly has a way with words I haven’t encountered elsewhere. But, he also does things like interrupt the story just when it seems like it’s going to take off to throw in a couple of chapters on the depiction and accuracy of whales in art. Just what was that man thinking? I also decided that it would be great to have a reader’s guide to Moby Dick that talks about some of the whaling terms. Enter the book my co-worker was talking about. It’s called Shipwrecked: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy. It’s about the first Japanese person to set foot in America and happens to talk a lot  about the whaling industry because the boy was picked up by a whaling ship. Apparently it’s a great book all-around and only about 80 pages. This is good because I’m overwhelmed with books that I put on hold. Well back to reading. My co-worker also alerted me to the cool cover image accompanying this post. They’ve killed their first whale. Why did I think I would like this?


2 thoughts on “My Saga With the White Whale

    jeane said:
    June 5, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    I really like that cover art, too. It would be interesting if one day an edition of Moby Dick could be published having two sections- one with just the storyline, and the second half having all the informational chapters, so you could read about whale and whaling facts separately. I, too, felt they were a great interruption to the flow of the novel (although fascinating in their own right).

    ta said:
    June 6, 2008 at 12:59 am

    That would be a great idea! Although I guess that’s cheating. Maybe that’s what they did with the Illustrated Classics version. They are interesting. I just read the chapter about the line and how all the men are tied to the rope that’s attached to the harpoon. Are you kidding me! I never knew that and it seems completely insane.

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