Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Moby Dick

Back when Number One was born I borrowed the book Moby Dick from the library. I read a few chapters but didn't really get in to it.

Last November I decided to give it another go. After all it's a classic so it must be pretty good.

I have to say that I read regularly and usually I can burn through novels pretty quickly but this one is a brute. Not a brute in size but a brute to get through. This is the second hardest book I've ever tried to finish. Number one would be War and Peace.

Here is what I expected: A story about some dude who signs up with a whaling boat and his adventures hunting down the great white sperm whale. Something similar to Robert Louis Stevenson.

Here is what I got: A scientific journal about whales. In fact the book should be called Cetology 101. I wasn't looking to get into the business of whaling, I just wanted an adventure story.

It started out like a normal novel following Ishmaels adventures leading up to the Pequod casting off. Then it started getting into entire chapters regarding whales as a species. At first, I thought Melville was just laying a lot of background information out there and once that was done the story would be on in earnest. This is the point I was at when it came time to return the book to the library.

I figured, I didn't plow through all that boring crap just to return the book right when the story was about to take off. So I re-borrowed the book. Twice.

But alas! It was still all about whales. Whales in art? Whales through history? Whale skeletons? Whale fossils? Whales are interesting and all but is it really vital to the plot?

The book is due to be returned on Monday and I refuse to take it out again. But I would hate to have wasted all that time plowing through the first 400 pages to miss out on the last 100. The 100 pages that entail the actual hunt for Moby Dick. In retrospect I should have noted the chapters where the actual story takes place. I could then read the story I was looking for in about 100 pages instead of 500.

Regardless, in a couple of days I will be done the book and I will never have to read about whales again.

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