Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick - Professor Herman Melville It's always wonderful when you like a book so much more than you thought you might, turning the pages out of delight rather than duty. Attracted by the very descriptions of whaling that so many readers bemoan, I expected Moby Dick to be a helpful in my research for the mermaid novel, but was perhaps dreading having to read the chapters everyone insisted must be skipped. Moby Dick is a fascinating look on an industry that was damaging in its time, but which had not yet reached the height of its destruction. It's also a ripping good yarn with a fabulous narrator. Of particular enjoyment were the encounters with the various ships, their captains reflecting various images of who Ahab could have been, the most blatant found in the captain of the Samuel Enderby, who lost an arm to Moby Dick as Ahab lost his leg, but whose reaction is (much more healthily) an avoidance of the whale in question rather than Ahab's quest for vengeance. The real treat of the novel is Ishmael, a wonderful wandering voice, possessing voluminous knowledge, unable to keep a thought straight his head, supremely illogical, wonderfully endearing. His cross-cultural friendship with Queequeg draws the reader in, keeping the pages turning until the rest of the book can take hold. Melville employs some unusual narrative techniques in the novel, not only allowing the characters typically-nineteenth-century soliloquies that would never pass in a modern novel, but at several points rendering the narrative in a format reminiscent of a play-script and narrating moments where Ishmael is not present. Rather than ascribe them to an error on Melville's part, I believe the hand behind Ishmael is reminding us not to trust everything we are told in this "draft of a draft." Lastly, I would like to nominate "a damp, drizzly November in my soul" for the Best Image Ever Award.