Do some books ever strike you as unconquerable – daunting because of their size and significance in literary culture? For me, that book is Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I’d always thought of it as big, long and scary. Never mind all the penis-related things I’ve heard about it and about it being this whole great big metaphor for manhood. Yet, when I was deciding on books to put on my Fill In The Gaps list, Moby Dick was one of the very first books I thought to add.
Friends, the best way for me to conquer this beast was via audio. As I listened, I felt unencumbered by trying to figure out the symbolism or the pronunciations, instead I just let myself slip into the narration. Moby Dick has one of the most iconic opening lines EVER – ‘Call me Ishmael’ and, y’all, the writing only gets BETTER. Seriously, I loved Melville’s way of describing things, of describing a certain frustration that seeps into your bones so all you can do to fix it is head for parts unknown, for the sea. I will say that the bits on whaling, the technical parts are kind of boring but if you are ever playing trivia and you get asked a question about whaling, you will probably win.
As for plot, I will give you a barebones version. There is this guy named Ishmael who gets a job on Captain Ahab’s boat. Ahab is dead set on killing this whale named Moby-Dick. You guys he is named Moby Dick because he is a total dick. He like, ate Ahab’s leg. So of course, the Captain wants revenge and I don’t really blame him. And basically the book is them going through the ocean looking for the whale, like they go up to a ship that was just whaling and Ahab is like you boys see the white whale? Yep. And that friends, is my lazy gist.
I am glad I read Moby Dick. First off, now I have bragging rights and can join the cultural conversation. Second, the writing is truly wonderful. I am honestly not shocked at all that this book is a classic. Third, the audiobook that I consumed was narrated by the late Frank Muller who is more than capable and did grizzled whaler quite well. The audio is 21 hours and 20 minutes, produced by Recorded Books and TOTALLY worth a listen, if your aim is to get into the classics and be entertained by them.
Disclosure: Purchased on sale at Audible for $4.95
Other reviews of Moby Dick by Herman Melville:
A Literary Odyssey – “It seems as if he agonized over each sentence, each word, to get it just right”
The Blue Bookcase – “This was not the adventure story I always thought it would be”
Also The Blue Bookcase provides a great LIST OF TIPS FOR READING MOBY DICK
FYI — you can totally download and read Moby Dick for free because it’s in the public domain.