A few weeks ago, before I had ever gotten wind that 2666 intersected with Moby Dick via a sermon by Barry Seaman resembling a sermon by Father Mapple, I found myself playing with the idea of proposing Moby Dick as the next Infinite Summer read. I’m not sure how I feel about it now, frankly. The IS crowd seems to dwindle with every book, and I now imagine myself trying in some way to lead or guide a group read only to discover that I’m the only one interested, that I’m doing the work for the benefit of no one but myself. Which would be fine (benefitting only myself), were it not public and, in its failure, embarrassing. So I thought I’d take your temperature on the matter, Internet.
I think that part of the reason Infinite Jest was such a popular read was because it was one of those books that smart people had been meaning to read forever but had put off. Here was kind of a kick in the collective pants to read the thing. I suspect that many have passed over Moby Dick as well and that a subset of those folk would enjoy doing a group read of it. Misery loves company, I guess. (Though there’s not much of misery in reading Moby Dick. I don’t understand why people don’t like it or think they won’t like it. You’ll watch an hour of How It’s Made or follow over the course of several months the labors of the Sea Sheperd or of the ships on Deadliest Catch, but you can’t bring yourself to read this dramatic, tender book that encompasses elements of those shows, but in high literary style and with humor, passion, and compassion?)
Another thing that made Infinite Jest a good pick was its emotional appeal. The people who love this book really love it. Many who give it a chance wind up feeling emotional about it. Moby Dick is one of my favorite books, but I don’t feel emotional about it in the way that I do with Infinite Jest. So maybe that’s a strike against Moby Dick‘s shot at being a successful group read selection.
What do you think? If I were to line up a schedule and see if I could find the occasional guest writer or define a set of themes, a la Matt, to track, would you be interested in participating? Or should I just read at my own pace and blog my thoughts if and when inclined?