Book Fair Fun and Moby is Stalking Me

Last night I worked the school’s book fair. I always have a fun time doing it and as you can see, my little “helper” had fun too. Fifty-five bucks later…

Anyway, after completing the Moby Dick Monday read-along, I’ve noticed Moby everywhere I look. The movie has been on a few times and I’ve seen several newish versions of the book that I haven’t seen before AND the names Ishmael and Ahab keep making their way into my daily conversation.

Last night I came across this version at the book fair:  

Yes, it’s geared towards the younger reader but the illustrations are wonderful:

Look at him. He’s staring at me. That’s the Ahab that I know and love. The one that haunts me. Um, yeah.

I’m thinking of taking on another classic. I haven’t decided which one yet. The list is long and my review pile beckons me but as soon as I’m caught-up, I’ll come up with a short list, and then a short-short list because half the fun of reading it figuring out what to read next.

Moby Dick Monday: February 15, 2010 (Final, Week 14)

Welcome to Moby Dick Monday! This is where we read four pages a day and then post about what we’ve read. Consider it an adventure of sorts!

My Story Re-Cap:

This week’s reading takes me through the last 25 chapters.

It’s clear to the crew that Ahab has lost his mind. This is apparent when Starbuck stumbles upon a sleeping Ahab, and for a moment considers murdering him in order to save the rest of the crew. He goes as far as raising the musket to Ahab, but then thinks better of it. As you can imagine this is a very intense scene. As Starbuck considers the worst, Ahab begins to call out in his dreams, and this somehow snaps Starbuck out of his reverie.

The yet levelled musket shook like a drunkard’s arm against the panel; Starbuck seemed wrestling with an angel; but turning from the door, he placed the death-tube in its rack, and left the place.

*No Spoilers*

For me, the other exciting part of this week’s reading is the last three chapters. Why? Because we finally get to meet Moby! Yes, after 130+ chapters the chase is on. I won’t go into detail because if any of you plan to read it, I want you to experience it for yourself but these last three chapters brought it all home for me.  It was while reading these chapters that I actually stepped into Ahab’s shoes (well, shoe…I know bad joke). There’s heartache, and rage and madness but it all comes together to be very satisfying in the end.

My Rambling Thoughts:

I can’t believe it, but I made it! I finally finished this behemoth of a book. Here are some very random thoughts:

  • Should have been given the title of  “Leviathan” instead. The word “leviathan” appears over 130 times and Moby doesn’t even make an appearance until the last few chapters.
  • As tempting as it is, do not read the abridged edition. I went with the unabridged edition and although it’s extremely long and detailed, you want to have the full experience when reading this book.
  • Keep a dictionary by your side, you’ll need it.
  • A book or web reference on whale anatomy would be useful as well.
  • I was surprised that Melville had a sense of humor. It still shocks me a little bit.

And the question that many have asked me… “Was it worth it?”

Yes, it was worth it. Some of the chapters were harder to get through than others and there were times when I wanted to skip to easier reading, but since I read most of this novel in small chunks, I was able to appreciate Melville’s style of writing. Much if it is so beautifully written but it is weighed down by a lot of detail, more detail than I expected.

I won’t list this one as one of my faves, but it is worth reading and if you can get a couple of your friends to read it along with you (thank you guys) then you’ll enjoy it a lot more.

Now I am off to dance a jig.

Reading Along With Me:

Jill of RhapsodyinBooks
Dar of Peeking Between the Pages
Eva of A Striped Armchair (completed!)
Wisteria from Bookworm’s Dinner
Gavin from Page247
Claire from kiss a cloud
Sandra from Fresh Ink Books

Past Moby Dick Posts:

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8

Week 9
Week 10
Week 11

Week 12
Week 13

Moby Dick Monday: February 8, 2010 (Week 13)

Welcome to Moby Dick Monday! This is where we read four pages a day and then post about what we’ve read. Consider it an adventure of sorts!

My Story Re-Cap:

Another short recap for the week. This one takes me through chapter 109.

I left off at chapter 65 last week so as you can see, I covered over 40 chapters but throughout all of these chapters, we are given yet another tutorial on the whale and its anatomy. Much time is spent on the precious spermaceti, which is the whale oil that is processed in such a way to produce a waxy substance that is used in many different ways.

Since whale oil is extracted form the sperm whale’s head, we are treated to a very involved description of the extraction process. I say ‘treated’ only because I found this portion of the tale fascinating. The crew straps the whale head to the side of the ship and then carves a whole into it to begin the extraction process. This oil is stored in barrels and to give you an idea on how much can be extracted…one large whale can produce as much as three tons of spermaceti.This oil is VERY valuable.

It is also within these chapters that a main member of the crew falls ill. He is overcome with fever and when he realizes that his time is limited, he plans out his burial. This particular member of the crew does not want to be tossed overboard, only to sink to the bottom of the black sea. Instead, he wants to be placed into a canoe and set to float across the ocean. The crew sees that his wishes are carried out.

Additionally, the carpenter carves a new ivory leg for Ahab after his ‘leg’ becomes compromised and begins to splinter. Ahab’s leg is carved out of whale bone (how fitting) and much of the chapter is spent discussing the differences of carving bone rather than wood. You see, when bone is filed it produces a very dusty, chalky cloud. It lines the passages of your nasal cavity and gets into your airways. It’s appropriate that Ahab, a man on a quest to find his white whale, literally lives and breathes whale…even if it’s in the form of bone dust.

My Rambling Thoughts:

I am attempting to pick-up the reading pace a bit so it would be wonderful if I could finish out this book this week. Although I am enjoying the technical aspect of the book, I am missing PLOT and character interaction.

Reading Along With Me:

Jill of RhapsodyinBooks
Dar of Peeking Between the Pages
Eva of A Striped Armchair (completed!)
Wisteria from Bookworm’s Dinner
Gavin from Page247
Claire from kiss a cloud
Sandra from Fresh Ink Books

Past Moby Dick Posts:

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8

Week 9
Week 10
Week 11

Week 12

Moby Dick Monday: February 1, 2010 (Week 12)

Welcome to Moby Dick Monday! This is where we read four pages a day and then post about what we’ve read. Consider it an adventure of sorts!

My Story Re-Cap:

Today’s recap is short and sweet and takes me through chapter 76.

In this week’s reading, the crew catches a whale. Although there is great detail in everything Melville shares, the detail of the catch itself was not as fleshed out, as the carving of the whale afterward. It’s clear to me, that the carving of such a massive animal is a very delicate procedure. Just the nature of its size presents a problem. As it’s strung up, it has to be strung up in such a way as to not cause the ship to go under.

Cutting into the wrong section could cause death and it is within these chapters that the massive whale head comes crashing down on Tashtego, sending him to the bottom of the ocean. As the crew watches in horror, Queequeg dives in after him. Both are down for a very long time. After several agonizing minutes, Queequeg comes up with Tashtego. It is explained afterward that Queequeg tunneled through the whale’s head and pulled Tashtego through it. Melville equates this act to childbirth, which I found quite interesting.

My Rambling Thoughts:

The carving of the whale is a messy process but Melville’s account of it is so clinical in nature that it doesn’t seem overly graphic. However, I did find myself re-reading certain passages. Mostly because I wanted to get a clear picture of what was going on in my mind.

Reading Along With Me:

Jill of RhapsodyinBooks
Dar of Peeking Between the Pages
Eva of A Striped Armchair (completed!)
Wisteria from Bookworm’s Dinner
Gavin from Page247
Claire from kiss a cloud
Sandra from Fresh Ink Books

For those that are participating, share your post links in comments. What do you think so far? Oh, and if anyone wants to join us just leave me a message below.

Moby Dick Monday: January 25, 2010 (Week 11)

Welcome to Moby Dick Monday! This is where we read four pages a day and then post about what we’ve read. Consider it an adventure of sorts!

My Story Re-Cap:

This week I read chapters 56-64. Melville goes to great lengths to explain, once again, the different portrayals of whales. If you think this re-cap resembles last week’s re-cap then you would be correct. Melville continues to discuss whales in paint, in wood, etc. I’m not 100% sure of his purpose in doing this, but I imagine he is trying to say that one cannot accurately depict the whale unless one has seen one up close, in battle.

The crew encounters a large mass:

In the distance, a great white mass lazily rose, and rising higher and higher, and disentangling itself from the azure, at last gleamed before our prow like a snow-slide, new slid from the hills. Thus glistening for a moment, as slowly it subsided, and sank. Then once more arose, and silently gleamed. It seemed not a whale; and yet is this Moby Dick? thought Daggoo. Again the phantom went down, but on re-appearing once more, with a stiletto-like cry that startled every man from his nod, the negro yelled out—”There! there again! there she breaches! right ahead! The White Whale, the White Whale!”

However, it is not the White Whale Moby, it is instead a giant squid.

A couple of chapters later, the crew does encounter a whale and Stubb sets to killing it. This chapter is especially gruesome but I secretly loved it. Not the actual act of course, but the details…oh the details! Melville is really good with details. When there is a little bit of action, I can almost feel the sea spray upon my face.  I say “when there is” because it’s not often that there is action. At least, not at 64 chapters in.

There was one chapter in this week’s reading that I found very humorous. Chapter 64, Stubb’s Supper. In this chapter, Stubb’s has a word (or two) with Cook over how whale is supposed to be cooked. Apparently Cook cooked it much too long. Here’s what Stubb has to say about it:

Well then, cook, you see this whale-steak of yours was so very bad, that I have put it out of sight as soon as possible; you see that, don’t you? Well, for the future, when you cook another whale-steak for my private table here, the capstan, I’ll tell you what to do so as not to spoil it by overdoing. Hold the steak in one hand, and show a live coal to it with the other; that done, dish it; d’ye hear? And now to-morrow, cook, when we are cutting in the fish, be sure you stand by to get the tips of his fins; have them put in pickle. As for the ends of the flukes, have them soused, cook. There, now ye may go.

My Rambling Thoughts:

I know many readers studied this book in college and dreaded the required reading but I sort of wish that I had had that experience. The opportunity to pick it apart and to discuss it as a group would have been very worthwhile. We are doing this in a sense with this read-along, but a real life conversation would be so lively, don’t you think?

Reading Along With Me:

Jill of RhapsodyinBooks
Dar of Peeking Between the Pages
Eva of A Striped Armchair (completed!)
Wisteria from Bookworm’s Dinner
Gavin from Page247
Claire from kiss a cloud
Sandra from Fresh Ink Books

For those that are participating, share your post links in comments. What do you think so far? Oh, and if anyone wants to join us just leave me a message below.

Moby Dick Monday: January 18, 2010 (Week 10)

Welcome to Moby Dick Monday! This is where we read four pages a day and then post about what we’ve read. Consider it an adventure of sorts!

My Story Re-Cap:

A lot took place in this week’s reading but it’s hard to summarize. Melville takes it upon himself to educate us a bit. We learn all about a “Gam” which is basically:

A social visit or friendly interchange, especially between whalers or seafarers.

The description of such a visit, confirms to me that whalers are a peculiar sort. Melville talks a bit about how it’s done, how the Captains sort of hang back and allow the crew to mingle a bit, yet that they each stay loyal and firmly rooted to their own ship. The mention of this, leads me to believe that although whalers can be social creatures, they tend to be a cautious group when it comes to strangers. Probably a good thing.

The next chapter (54) happens to be the longest chapter I’ve read so far. It was the longest, and the most tedious to read. Chapter 54 discusses in great length the Town Ho’ story. The Town Ho was a homeward-bound Nantucket whale ship. Radney, the mate, ordered a fellow by the name of Steelkilt to swab the deck. This proved to be a great insult to Steelkilt as a pig had run loose and he felt it beneath him to be ordered to do such a menial task. Steelkilt, feeling bold, refused to do it and Radney hauled off and hit him with a hammer! A fight ensued.

Steelkilt rallies some of the other men and takes over the deck. Refusing the Captain’s orders to get to work he expects a flogging, so he and the other men lock themselves down below. His plans change when a couple of the men tie him up and turn him over to the Captain. He gets his flogging from Radney, of all people so he decides to murder Radney. This is a secret that he keeps to himself, but in the end he is distracted by the appearance of Moby Dick himself and in a moment of fierceness, Moby Dick grabs Radney and takes him to his death.

The last chapter (55) discusses the monstrous depictions of whales. Although interesting, it would have been much more so had the chapter included photos.

My Rambling Thoughts:

The story of the Town-Ho was very entertaining, but so, so long! I had a really hard time getting through it. It required all of my attention and with the kids running about, I found it impossible to concentrate so I resorted to an audio re-telling, to get it firmly planted in my brain. I find with this book, that you use all manners of tools to get you through it. Be it audio, or visual.

For the others reading along with me, do you have a hard time following along with the story? Have you had to resort to other formats to help you through the reading?

Reading Along With Me:

Jill of RhapsodyinBooks
Dar of Peeking Between the Pages
Eva of A Striped Armchair
Wisteria from Bookworm’s Dinner
Gavin from Page247
Claire from kiss a cloud
Sandra from Fresh Ink Books

For those that are participating, share your post links in comments. What do you think so far? Oh, and if anyone wants to join us just leave me a message below.

Moby Dick Monday: January 11, 2010 (Week 9)

Welcome to Moby Dick Monday! This is where we read four pages a day and then post about what we’ve read. Consider it an adventure of sorts!

My Story Re-Cap:

This week’s reading took me through Chapter 52. Ahab is beginning to wonder how he’ll keep the crew motivated through such a long voyage. He realizes, that without a reward of some kind, the crew could turn on him and decide not to obey his commands at all. This thought disturbs him, but he tucks it away to think about later.

While Ishmael and Queequeg spend a lazy afternoon working on maps, Tashtego calls from above with a “There she blows!” The crew snaps to attention, only to be startled by the appearance of five strangers. These strangers, or “phantoms” as Ishmael takes to calling them, is headed up by someone named Fedallah. The crew, including these five strangers, lowers the boats and sets out after Moby Dick. However, their chase proves fruitless and they return to the ship.

A second sighting a few days later has them all in the water again, but this time, Ishmael’s boat capsizes and he fights the sea to get back on board. After a struggle, Ishmael returns to the ship and asks the others if being thrown into the ocean like this and nearly losing your life is something that he should expect regularly. After getting confirmation of this, he decides that the additional strangers, probably couldn’t hurt as there is power in numbers.

My Rambling Thoughts:

At 256 pages in, Ahab is still a mystery, but I’m learning more about him as each week passes. He is a brooding type. I suspect, highly intelligent too but that has not been told to us in so many words. He quietly observes the deck, his crew and the ocean surrounding them. His quest to find Moby Dick is of course personal, but I am guessing there’s even more to that story than we’ve been told thus far. I’m enjoying Ishmael’s slow realization of what he’s gotten himself into.

I’m glad that these chapters are short. If they were longer, I think the story would be lost in the words. Melville takes such care to describe things a certain way, but the sentences are a bit choppy. This is one of those books where I need complete silence in order to read it. The background noise of the TV or kids forces me to re-read chapters at a time. It really requires quite a bit of focus. However, I am almost at the halfway mark and that’s quite an accomplishment! I’ve never been able to get this far before. I believe I’m going to make it through this.

Reading Along With Me:

Jill/Softdrink of Fizzy Thoughts
Jill of RhapsodyinBooks
Dar of Peeking Between the Pages
Eva of A Striped Armchair
Wisteria from Bookworm’s Dinner
Gavin from Page247
Claire from kiss a cloud
Sandra from Fresh Ink Books

For those that are participating, share your post links in comments. What do you think so far? Oh, and if anyone wants to join us just leave me a message below.

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