Moby Dick

Moby Dick group read prep

Well, there was pretty good response to my query about whether or not people were interested in a group read of Moby Dick. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times on twitter and Facebook as well and gotten a few encouraging responses. I had been waffling on whether or not to try to lead this thing, since I’ve been at this group read thing for nearly a year now, and it’s darned time-consuming for me. But I finally decided to go ahead and do the thing. And now I’m so excited I’m just about shaking in my skin about it. I’ve downloaded an audio version for potential listening to in the car and on the old elliptical machine. I’ve bought the authoritative text for this read and am poking into the end-matter as I have time. I’ve begun reading (and in some cases rereading) books about whaling and whales and Melville’s books. I’ve lined up a couple of neato bloggers who for the moment will remain nameless but whose participation I’m really excited about (not to diminish the efforts my siblings-in-arms already blogging here). And I’ve set a schedule.

Mark your calendar for May 24. That’s a couple of weeks after the 2666 read wraps up. We’re going to go pretty fast. I think that the longer a read goes along, the more fatigued people become. I know it’s been the case with 2666 (made worse by that big oppressive fourth section), and there are certainly parts of Moby Dick that some will find fatiguing or boring (though I find them fascinating). So this is going to be a 6-week whirlwind read. In the edition I cut my teeth on (the Penguin edition pictured front left above), that’s about 115 pages a week, or 16 pages a day. It seems like a lot, I guess, but the prose itself isn’t hard. If you were able to pull off 70 pages a week of Infinite Jest, this will be an absolute cinch. (And if people come at me with pitchforks and torches in the comments, I’ll consider stretching it out to an 8-week read instead.)

So there you have it. Bone up on your nautical lingo and get ready to chase the white whale. I’ll write a few more posts in preparation for the read in the mean time, but look for my post on the first few chapters on May 24.

If you’re already blogging for IZ and would like to be considered an official blogger for the Moby Dick read, please let me know one way or another so that I can add you to the about page when I make one. If you’re not a blogger for IZ but would like to be, please make your case in the comments (or if you’re too shy to make a case in the comments, at least leave a comment expressing your interest, and I’ll email you).

12 thoughts on “Moby Dick

  1. JW April 18, 2010 / 6:35 am

    Excellent! I’m on board.

  2. Oregon Michael April 19, 2010 / 2:17 am

    Excellent! Thanks for getting things started, Daryl. I haven’t yet read Moby Dick, so this will be a treat.

    My Grandma died a few years back and I inherited her Moby Dick hardback published in 1939, a small red book with dirty pages. Thanks Grandma Bernice!

    • Oregon Michael April 19, 2010 / 2:25 am

      Oh yeah, I did want to add:

      From Roberto Bolaño: The Last Interview – “Bolaño once wrote that in the Americas, all modern fiction springs from two sources: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick. The Savage Detectives, with its carousing characters, is Bolaño’s novel of friendship and adventure. 2666 chases the white whale. For Bolaño, Melville’s novel held the key to writing about “the land of evil”; and like Melville’s saga, 2666 can be stunning or soporific, depending on your taste for the slow burn.”

  3. Daryl L. L. Houston April 19, 2010 / 8:48 am

    Wow, what a great quote, Oregon Michael. Thanks for sharing (and what a treat to be reading an old edition of the book).

  4. Joan April 19, 2010 / 12:53 pm

    I’m in! It’s pretty telling that the Moby Dick posts here have gotten lots of comments, and many of us are simply not up to commenting on 2666! Thankfully others have run with it and done a fantastic job. I’ve been completely out of pocket for a bit with the Florida Film Festival that wrapped up last night, and I can still barely see straight, but I will definitely be on board for Moby Dick. I’ll do my best to squeeze in Blood Meridian between the two and have a post or two about that as I promised before!

  5. Daryl L. L. Houston April 19, 2010 / 2:38 pm

    Joan, sounds great. I did the penultimate week’s reading for 2666 last night, and I begin to see again why I think this book does gesture toward greatness, though I’m sort of on board with the crowd that doesn’t really love the book. Moby Dick I love, though. Also, I recently bought The Road and hope to squeeze it in soon, though I’ve got another group read and some other projects spinning now too, so it may have to wait for a bit longer.

  6. Paul April 19, 2010 / 4:41 pm

    I was just planning to start reading Damian Searls’ edition of Moby Dick called “; or the Whale” in which he prints only the text that was left out of the edited edition of the original.


    I think I may use that a precurso to readng the whole thing with you guys (unless I hate it of course)

  7. Joann Karen May 5, 2010 / 2:37 pm

    Looking Forward to another Great Read — after Infinite Jest, Dracula and 2666 ! Visited Melville’s home in the Berkshires – Pittsfield Mass last year – close to Tanglewood where Nathaniel Hawthorne was staying at that time.

  8. ambimb May 23, 2010 / 9:21 am

    For those of us w/stupid editions w/o page numbers (Kindle fail!), the goal is to discuss the first 26 or so chapters starting tomorrow?

  9. Daryl L. L. Houston May 23, 2010 / 10:48 am

    Ambimb, we’re going by chapter (since there are so many editions), and tomorrow’s objective is to get through chapter 18.

    • ambimb May 23, 2010 / 11:05 am

      Thanks! I’m going to try to get there. I see in a previous post you are planning to make this a one-stop-shop for this read, but is there a reading schedule posted anywhere or are you just taking it week by week?

      • Daryl L. L. Houston May 23, 2010 / 2:50 pm

        Check the sidebar at the right, second block from the top. That’s the schedule unless there’s a hue and cry to slow down. Glad to have you aboard!

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