So much of Moby Dick has become a part of our every day culture. If you live on the West Coast like I do, and are surrounded by coffee culture as I am, Starbucks is likely a mammoth symbol in your life. Starbuck is Captain Ahab's first mate and the only one on the boat who dares to face off against Captain Ahab in his insane quest for the infamous White Whale, Moby Dick. Despite that he is also a loyal and dedicated companion to Moby Dick.
I was so excited to read this book because of one of my teenhood favorite shows, X-Files. On one episode (which consequently is in my top 5) Mulder and Scully search for a lake monster much like the Loch ness. During that episode Scully has a little Pomerianian named Queequag.Pomerianians have since become on of my favorite dogs, despite their yappiness and if I ever own one I would love to name it Queequag. Queequag is the name of Ishmael's (the Narrator of Moby Dick) closest companion on the ship.Eventually Mulder and Scully get stranded on a rock in the middle of the lake and Scully tells Mulder of her father and his nickname for her. He always called her his Starbuck and refered to himself as Ahab. I always found the scene so endearing and thought that Starbuck was the cutest nickname ever.
I read 2/3 of this book on my iphone app: ibooks because I could not find the book anywhere including the bookstores. I had to order it in to Coles which took a few weeks and in the meantime I read the book on my tiny little phone. At first I thought I hated reading ebooks but in the end I didn't find it as bad as I expected. Despite that there is nothing that compares to curling up with a book on the couch. It just doesn't feel the same somehow curling up with an electronic device!!! Nothing beats the smell of paper and ink and I frequenly sniff the books I read. Is that weird??!!
I am not sure whether I loved this book or not. There are parts of it that I absolutely loved. I did love most of the philsophy of the book which is about the search for the mysterious, ephemeral things in life and how they can never be grasped this side of heaven. There were so many parts though that were slow moving and I didn't look forward to reading it. The first few sections of the book prior to the Pequod sailing at sea and the last part, where they come closer to meeting Moby Dick are amazing. The middle of the book, what with the odd use of encyclopedia-style cataloguing and random bursts of play style writing is somewhat harder to stomach. I have noticed that the author of the list, Daniel S. Burt tends to favor the modern style of writing that focuses on the creative use of the novel, a la James Joyce. I also had a hard time stomaching the graphic descriptions of the hunting and dismemberment of the whale. What a horrible way to make a living.
And now for a few of my favorite quotes:
The first chapter sets about the reason for the sea voyage and restlessness that grows in Ishmael which always turns him towards the sea.
"almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feeligns towards the ocean with me"
"Take almost any path you please, ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it"
"Everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever"
Ishmael the author of the book meets Queequag at a hotel he choses to stay at prior to going on his first whaling voyage. He is a pagan who is covered in tattoos and worships a little ebony idol. This terrify's Ishmael but they soon become fast friends because, he
"felt a metling in me. No more my splintered heart and maddened hand were turned agains the wolfish world. This soothing savage had redeemed it."
and he discovered that:
"Presbyterians and Pagans alike...(are) all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head and sadly need mending"
I love it! What a great way to look at the human condition.
There are a few other great metaphors about life in the book which make absolutely no sense out of context. I recommend reading this book simply because almost everyone knows the basic premise of the story but few have actually read it. It truly is more than just a story of a guy chasing a white whale. There are some beautiful gems in there about human nature and life in general. I am now on to book 7which is Madame Bovary. If anyone is interested in reading it with me let me know. It would be fun to have someone to chat about the book with.
And as with all these book reviews if you are reading this on facebook please head over to my real blog magic-and-mystery.blogspot.com