Sunday, February 23, 2014

I tried, Moby-Dick

I will read anything.  In the olden days I'd grab a volume from the World Book Encyclopedia and read J-K.  Nancy Drew, War and Peace (not at the same time). Every MAD magazine I could get my hands on.  Thomas Hardy novels in high school that were so brooding and gloomy they felt like, well, high school.

The point is - give me anything.  And one day I thought, hey, I've never read Moby-Dick.  Adventure, danger, obsession with revenge, life at sea on the whaling ship Pequod.  I'd read and enjoyed the Patrick O'Brian books (Master and Commander, etc.).  Moby-Dick would be exactly the same.

Except it wasn't.  The language was difficult - it was like the Emperor saying to Mozart, "Too many notes."  Moby-Dick had too many words.  Sloggable words (okay, sloggable isn't really a word, but that's what Moby-Dick felt like).  And oh so much description of whaling.

Now, while discoursing of sperm it behooves to speak of other things akin to it, in the business of preparing the sperm whale for the try-works. First comes white-horse, so called, which is obtained from the tapering part of the fish, and also from the thicker portions of his flukes. It is tough with congealed tendons- a wad of muscle- but still contains some oil. After being severed from the whale, the white-horse is first cut into portable oblongs ere going to the mincer. They look much like blocks of Berkshire marble.

It never quite clicked.  But I didn't give up.  Like Ishmael I clung to the Queequeg coffin of a book until I was rescued.  And then I walked down to Pequod (what the founders of Starbucks originally wanted to call their coffee shop) and had a chai latte.

1 comment:

  1. I like the rich, nougaty goodness that is the language in "Moby Dick." Nineteenth Century novels are't entertainments, they're commitments. Like joining the army...or the navy. "We gave three heavy-hearted cheers, and blindly plunged like fate into the lone Atlantic."