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Posted March 4, 2013
After starting this book at least 3 previous times and stopping with Ahab stomping the deck after the Pequod leaves port, I bought a Nook and read it through over a 12-month period. (I wanted to be one-up on Woody Allen's "Zelig".)
I agree that this is more of a journey story than The Great American Novel, since about 60% of the book is non-fiction. Another title for the book might be "Everything You Want to Know About Whales and Didn't Want to Ask". Parts are very dry and pedantic, but when Melville gets into the story the book shines and his writing is beautiful. I'd say the first and last 100 pages are the best in the book.
I'm glad I read the book. It's quite an experience, but I doubt that I will re-read this again.'
Spoiler-alert to affectionados of the movie with Gregory Peck playing Ahab. There is no mythic dead-guy Captain beckoning from the back of the white whale; that's pure Hollywood folks. Melville's description of 2 separate (non-Moby) whale hunts is detailed, gruesome and very sad -- a great advertisement for joining Greenpeace, but he is very terse about the deaths of whale hunters, especially Ahab.
Posted February 19, 2012
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