Thursday, July 8, 2010

Where I Have Been


Yes, I put it down again. The paperback I had was falling apart so that didn't help. It was just such a chore that every time I wanted to pick it up I saw 800 other paperbacks on my shelf that looked like a heck of a lot more fun to read. I just get no enjoyment out of Moby Dick. None. When I feel like that schoolchild who has a class novel that they have to read, plus I am only assigning it to myself so I have no accountability but to myself, I feel no reason to dive into it.

But that changed again. I am back in the saddle. I received the coolest thing ever for my birthday this past January, a Sony eReader. Phenomenal invention. An iPod for books, basically. I even put Moby Dick on there as the first I loaded it with. But then the same thing happened again. With 100+ books on the eReader, those others just seem a lot more interesting.

Since then, I have read quite a few books on the device. I even read Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. And let me tell you...that is a much better and enjoyable book than Moby Dick. So it is not for want of reading.

But I am back into it again. I think I re-picked it up, on the eReader, about chapter 20 or so. I am now on Chapter 82. And these are by far some of the hardest chapters to get through. Chapters on comparing the heads of right whales and sperm whales. Chapters on the history of pictures of whales. I see some reasons behind these things. The one chapter comparing the head of the whale to a battering ram is sufficient foreshadowing for what happens at the end. I get that only with my knowledge of what happens in the book, not from any sense of urgency in the book itself. The chapter on what kind of rope is used in whaling makes sense with what I know of Ahab's fate. But the dryness of Melville's writing to my tastes...For instance, this next chapter 82 talks of the "Honor and Glory of Whaling," especially indicating Perseus as the first whaleman and stuff like that. It just reads so much more like an encyclopedia entry or a textbook than a story. And when we do get story bits, like the rumors of Moby Dick's presence in the area, there just doesn't feel like much to sustain the momentum of the reader.

But I am going to finish this book if it kills me. Moby Dick is my Moby Dick. I will kill the beast. I am reading at least one chapter a day through the eReader, if not 2 or 3.

Because it is funny to me. I am also reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I want to read all those books, some of them again. I will admit, from a literary sensibility and with my English literature training, that this is not a great piece of literature. But it is just fun. The ideas are interesting, the dialogue snappy even when Zaphod just says, "Hey, yeah," and somehow it is just written in an accessible style that makes continuing easy to do. What makes Moby Dick such a classic and Hitchhiker's a cult favorite? I bet I could get more kids to read Hitchhiker's. In fact, I actually bet more people have read Hitchhiker's than Moby Dick.

I will keep this apprised of my status. Probably not every day but weekly or so, just to maintain progress. I have to think of here as like a due date or a teacher that will scold me if I don't read.

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