Twenty-Fifteen: I’m doing something I’ve been putting off for far too long. I’m getting serious about reading, again. I’ve dusted off my paperbacks and charged up my Kindle. It’s time to take the time to feed my poor television-adled brain with a selection of healthy, nourishing fiction. So, read on, little brain. Read on. We’re going Book to the Future!
It’s New Year’s Eve and I look down at the progress I’ve made on this book and find that I’m well into it’s last quarter.
I have decided that I don’t really like it. It’s not one thing about the work, any single point of irritation. Some of the parts themselves have been interesting and even enjoyable. And the metaphor criss-crossed with the in-depth imagery has at times been enchanting.
But Moby Dick is a bore. It is a novel seemingly puffed up with endless filler meant for a very different age. To a nineteenth century reader to whom access to information was expensive and time was abundant, the ne’er-ending descriptions of whale anatomy must have been brilliant. But to a guy in the twenty-first century, to whom a quick Google search will deliver anything and everything I could possibly want to know about modern cetacean biology summarized nicely for efficient mental digestion, well as I already said, Moby Dick is a bore.
An early review (or do we call those literary critiques for such an old book?) warned that Melville’s tale could be considered two books interwoven. I was not sure how to interpret that when I read it, but now as I’m 80% into the novel, I see it plainly. It’s a short story of perhaps one hundred pages. A novella, at best, into which the author has rammed a series of pseudo-scientific lectures slash rambling wikipedia articles slash “an ode to a whale fin I found in my soup one midsummer morning” prose.
I’ve been tempted to skip and skim, but have resisted… partially for fear of missing some fine detail or cleaver reveal. That said, I’m not sure one exists and I’m pushing on in the yet-unfilled hope that the much more interesting plot of Captain Ahab’s revenge resumes in earnest.
Or maybe that’s the point: that adventure isn’t non-stop action, it’s a lot of boring stuff with a few interesting parts stuffed in the middle when you don’t really expect it. Oh, Melville, you tricky sea dog. I wish I could actually believe you meant it that way.