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reading tiger

Reading Wednesday Returns to Form

I did finally finish Moby Dick and it remained awesome to the very end.

Should you ever decide that you, too, want to tackle Moby Dick, here is some advice. First, I think it rewards being an older person reading it. Not that you have to be, but let me put it this way: Moby Dick can be read as the chronicle of a really ill-starred midlife crisis. For my part, I had a fascinating conversation with my mother about how she tried to read it three times -- but all attempts were before she turned 20. I think I would have missed the very, very dry humor when I was younger. I think I would have gotten irritated at the faux-authoritative voice a little later in life. Now, though, it was perfect. (If you read it when you were younger and liked it, now you have an excuse for reading it again sometime.)

Also, many of the chapters are really really short. Once upon a time I got writing advice from Octavia Butler that boiled down to "one chapter at a time" (a la AA). Melville wrote Moby Dick one chapter at a time. I picture him as the Energizer Bunny of novelists. Anyway, the short chapters help make it super-readable, even though it's so long. You can take tiny bites. It's great bathroom reading. Seriously.

After I put down the big book, though, I was ready for something short. So I read and enjoyed Six-Gun Snow White by Cathrynne Valente. This one is very chewy for my writer brain. I think I am dissatisfied with the ending, but not in a big way. There are things I wanted to know more about, too, but the narrative lens was so narrowly fixed on Snow White that I knew it wasn't going to happen. So, you know, quite evocative and totally worth reading, but, hm.

Now I am reading The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno. I'm only about five pages into it so don't ask me what I think of it yet.


I completely agree about reading Moby-Dick as an adult. I can't imagine it would make much sense to anyone under 20, and I'm so glad I read it in my 30s (and re-read it in my 40s). Such a wonderful book, incredible language and what a story!