Tagged: Moby Dick Readalong

Reading Roundup: June 2013

Reading Roundup June 2013

50 Shades and 1001 Books rubbing shoulders. Scandalous!

The Moby Dick Read-a-Long continues through July, but so far? So fun. We’ve got a small group, but I love having the weekly writing prompt, and I’ve had discussions both illuminating and hilarious with my readalongers. I’m not used to having to talk about a book before I’m finished, so it’s taking me out of my comfort zone. That’s a good thing, I believe.

I’ve actually finished Moby-Dick, way ahead of schedule, and I’m not sure how I’m going to sum it up. It’s one of those classics that’s so widely regarded that it seems presumptuous to even give it a rating. Who am I to give it four stars? Continue reading

Moby Dick Read-A-Long Chapters 61-75: Turning Point

Moby Dick Read-A-Long

This section made me uneasy. It was disjointed. They finally kill a whale, but it’s over so quickly… for a narrator that spends pages upon pages talking about the minutia of whale anatomy, it’s very brief. There’s a lot of disorder and upsetting of the natural state of things. Stubbs eats (part of) a whale, which is unusual. The Pequod meets a ship that is in the thrall of a prophet and on the verge of mutiny.

Having read ahead a bit, I now see these chapters as a turning point. Things get real dark after this. I’m reaching a bit of a turning point too, in that I just want to read, read, read and not stop to think or write. But I must, read-a-longers!

Share your thoughts in the comments, or better yet, link to your own post.

Lost at sea? For all the details on this read-a-long, including schedule and sign up, click here.

Chapters 61-75

  • Everything is IlluminatedI walk The Line: The first chapter of this section is The Line. Like most of the titles, it is very literal. This chapter is about the line that connects the harpoons to the boat. But somehow, while being so literal and documentary-like, Melville brings some heavy symbolism. The line imagery reminded me of the string that connects all the houses and shops in Trachimbrod in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated and I’m sure both Foer and Melville were giving a shout out to The Fates of Greek mythology who spin, weave, and cut the threads of life (I totally just had a Grade 12 IB English flashback.)

All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life.

  • Fellow Critters: In a chapter that (I think) is supposed to serve as comic relief, I was cringing at the overt racism and cruelty Stubbs shows in his treatment of Fleece, an elderly, arthritic, black cook. Fleece’s sermon to the sharks, his “fellow critters,” is funny, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was supposed to be laughing at him, not with him.
  • The Jeroboam: I liked the meeting with The Jeroboam and its crazy (?) prophet Gabriel who warns Ahab about The White Whale, but I’m not sure what we’re supposed to take away from it. To me, Ahab and Gabriel are both nuts.
  • Blubber: The detailed description of cutting away the blubber didn’t bother me. I was prepared to be grossed out, but it didn’t do much for me at all. Next!

Tune in Next Week: Feminism for whales.

WWW Banner

Tweetbanner

Easiest “tweet of the week” pick ever:

What did you think of this section? Link to your blog post below and drop me a line in the comments.

Moby Dick Read-A-Long Chapters 46-60: Digressions

Moby Dick Read-A-Long

“digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine;-they are the life, the soul of reading”

-Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy

Only nine of these fifteen chapters have much to do with the main narrative, and of those, maybe five really move the story forward.  The rest could kindly be called digressions. I know some of my fellow read-a-longers are probably a little (a lot?) frustrated with all the tangents and biology lessons. The quote above is from another book with multiple digressions that frustrated me so much that I didn’t finish it. However, I’m still loving the oddball chapters in this book! This time around, we get one chapter on “monstrous” pictures of whales and one chapter on “true” pictures of whales. No, they simply couldn’t be combined. We also get chapters on other artistic renderings of whales, on whale food, on giant squid, and, my favourite, a fantastic story about another ship altogether, the Town-Ho.

Share your thoughts in the comments, or better yet, link to your own post.

Lost at sea? For all the details on this read-a-long, including schedule and sign up, click here.

Chapters 46-60

  • Steelkilt: Doesn’t that sound like the name of a summer blockbuster, perhaps starring an evil Scottish robot? No? Okay. But it was the name of a sailor aboard the Town-Ho, who figured in the lengthy disgression Ishmael treats us to. The Town-Ho chapter is so random, but I raced to finish it during a lunch hour. Lots of violence, intrigue, and mutiny. I’m not sure what the point was, apart from showing us that life on the seas, or maybe more accurately, the people who choose to live that life, are pretty bizarre – lest we think it’s just the Pequod and her crew.
  • Foreshadowing: There’s been plenty of heavy foreshadowing before this section, but Melville really lays it on thick:

Close to our bows, strange forms in the water darted hither and thither before us; while thick in our rear flew the inscrutable sea-ravens. And every morning, perched on our stays, rows of these birds were seen; and spite of our hootings, for a long time obstinately clung to the hemp, as though they deemed our ship some drifting, uninhabited craft; a thing appointed to desolation, and therefore fit roosting-place for their homeless selves.

  • Ahab's WifeAhab’s Wife: She’s not mentioned in this section, but when Ahab breaks out his secret crew of whalers and just generally becomes more and more intense, I keep reminding myself that he’s got a young wife and baby at home, and wonder, do they figure into his mindset at all? And what is she doing while all this  is going on? I mean, MD is clearly a book by a guy, about guys, for guys, and I know Melville’s not going to address it. I Googled “Ahab’s wife” just to see if anyone else was wondering, and found a book called Ahab’s Wife was written in the 1990s and apparently, it’s pretty good! The New York Times says:

 In ”Ahab’s Wife,” Sena Jeter Naslund has taken less than a paragraph’s worth of references to the captain’s young wife from Herman Melville’s ”Moby-Dick” and fashioned from this slender rib not only a woman but an entire world. That world is a looking-glass version of Melville’s fictional seafaring one, ruled by compassion as the other is by obsession, with a heroine who is as much a believer in social justice as the famous hero is in vengeance.

Tune in Next Week: Well, let’s just say Greenpeace wouldn’t be too happy with what’s coming up next.

WWW Banner

Tweetbanner

Yay, fellow Edmonton Book Blogger Brie is getting into the swing of things!

What did you think of this section? Link to your blog post below and drop me a line in the comments.

Moby Dick Read-A-Long Chapters 31-45: Schooled in Cetology

Moby Dick Read-A-Long

I’m having a hard time writing this post because there’s so much I want to say. This is the section where I went from “this is pretty good/funny” to “Oh. This is sublime.”

The thing that struck me is that Moby Dick is so honest. Ishmael tells us everything we need to know about whales, and more. Ahab admits that he’s chasing the White Whale to exact revenge – he revels in it. You’d think a person would be sort of embarrassed about that. Starbuck has doubts and tells Ahab immediately.  When I had questions – how on earth can anyone find a whale in the ocean? Why is it a big deal that Moby Dick is white? – Melville answers them, thoroughly. No suspension of disbelief required. Yet at the same time, symbols, allusions, and imagery abound – you know, all that good high school English stuff.

So not only is Moby-Dick postmodern before there was a postmodern, but it’s creative nonfiction before THAT was a thing, either. Amazing.

Share your thoughts in the comments, or better yet, link to your own post.

Lost at sea? For all the details on this read-a-long, including schedule and sign up, click here.

Chapters 31-45

  • Cetology: Chapter 32 is called Cetology and it’s the first of the “whale” chapters. So far, it’s the one I marked up more than any other. This is the thing that readers complain about, I mean, we were just getting somewhere with the story, and we’re taking a 15 page detour to talk about the science of whales? But it’s amazing. Here are some passages I liked:

As yet, however, the sperm whale, scientific or poetic, lives not complete in any literature. Far above all other hunted whales, his is an unwritten life.

What could be worse than the unwritten life? This chapter is full of literary analogies. Ishmael classifies whales using book sizes – it makes no sense, but somehow it’s perfect. Melville was a total book nerd and probably figured his readers might be, too. Way to know your audience!

The Killer is never hunted. I never heard what sort of oil he has. Exception might be taken to the name bestowed upon this whale, on the ground of its indistinctness. For we are all killers, on land and on sea; Bonapartes and Sharks included.

Growing up in Vancouver, whales=killer whales. So far, this is the only time they’re mentioned but Melville has a good point about their name.

This killer whale has hurt me many times over the years. via canucks.nhl.com

This killer whale has hurt me many times over the years. via canucks.nhl.com

uncertain, fugitive, half-fabulous whales…the Pudding-Headed Whale… can hardly help suspecting them for mere sounds, full of Leviathanism, but signifying nothing.

Whoa, nice Shakespeare reference. Pretty bold. Also, “Pudding-Headed Whale.”

For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught — nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!

Makes me wonder what Ishmael means – that there’s more to the story? That the story isn’t the point, the reader has to build on it?

It was the idea also, that this same spermaceti was that quickening humor of the Greenland Whale which the first syllable of the word literally expresses…When, as I opine, in the course of time, the true nature of spermaceti became known, its original name was still retained by the dealers; no doubt to enhance its value by a notion so strangely significant of its scarcity.

I’m just laughing because obviously labeling something “Whale Jizz” is going to enhance it’s value. Obviously.

Moving on. There were other high points in this section:

via Babylit.com

via Babylit.com

  • Sing Out For New Stars: I’ve referenced the children’s “Baby Lit” version of Moby Dick I bought for my son (… and myself) a few times. My terribly MS Paint-ed logo uses one of the illustrations. Another one of the pages in that book contains the words “Sing out for new stars.” Something about that grabbed me, and I finally read the whole passage in this section. And I love it.

…the first pyramids were founded for astronomical purposes: a theory singularly supported by the peculiar stair-like formation of all four sides of those edifices; whereby, with prodigious long upliftings of the legs, those old astronomers were wont to mount to the apex, and sing out for new stars; even as the look-outs of a modern ship sing out for a sail, or a whale just bearing in sight.

SlowMan

  • Melville’s influence: One of the best things about reading classics is recognizing their influence on modern literature. As I read about Ahab’s ivory prosthetic leg, I was reminded of J.M. Cotzee’s 2005 novel Slow Man. The main character is a curmudgeonly and solitary old man who loses his leg in a bicycle accident. But in some ways, “slow man” is the anti-Ahab, as he can’t even remember the name of the man responsible, let alone obsess about revenge. Slow Man is a postmodern work, and I’m beginning to think that most postmodernist were influenced by Melville to some degree. In this case, I’m convinced, since I found a quote from Slow Man in which a prosthetic leg is compared to a harpoon. That ain’t no coincidence.
  • White on White: So I mentioned there’s a whole chapter on the colour white. What the hell do you say about white for a whole chapter? Try this on for size:

…the sailor, beholding the scenery of the Antarctic seas; where at times, by some infernal trick of legerdemain in the powers of frost and air, he, shivering and half shipwrecked, instead of rainbows speaking hope and solace to his misery, views what seems a boundless churchyard grinning upon him with its lean ice monuments and splintered crosses.

Beautiful and devastating. I love “shivering and half shipwrecked.” Might be my new literary earworm.

Tune in Next Week: Time to chase some whales.

WWW Banner

Tweetbanner

Major fail on my part. Now I’m just not including the hyphen to be consistent. Ughhh.

I’m not the only one who loved Chapter 32:

What did you think of this section? Link to your blog post below and drop me a line in the comments.

Moby Dick Read-A-Long Chapters 16-30: Starbucks, Ahoy!

Moby Dick Read-A-Long

Ishmael and Queequeg take a back seat as we meet The Pequod and her crew. Share your thoughts in the comments, or better yet, link to your own post.

Lost at sea? For all the details on this read-a-long, including schedule and sign up, click here.

Chapters 16-30

  • America, Fuck Yeah: This is embarrassing, but I thought Moby Dick was a British novel until very recently. Like, basically until I started reading it. I *know,* great American novel, right? I had to keep reminding my self in the first few chapters that we’re in New York, not London. I don’t know where I got this idea, but it was hard to shake… now that we’re a ways in, I’m finally seeing this as an American novel. The owners of the Pequod are Quakers, and that’s pretty American. So is Ishmael’s description of these whaling Quakers:

They are fighting Quakers; they are Quakers with a vengeance.

  • Starbucks, Ahoy: The other thing that’s reminding me this is an American novel is that Starbucks is named for the Pequod’s first mate, Starbuck.  Figures that the month I decide to give up lattes is the month I will be reading Starbuck over and over and over again.
  • Billions of blistering blue barnacles!

    Loving the nautical talk!

    Ahab in the House: Melville sure likes to build anticipation. In the first 15 chapters, I was wondering if we’d ever get on the boat. Over the next 10 or so, I wonder where the heck Ahab is. Is he really ill, but almost better, as Ishmael is told? Or is it something more sinister? What’s he hiding? We finally meet Ahab near the end of this section, and much is made of his strange birthmark and other physical characteristics. The first time we hear him speak, he calls one of his mates “ten times a donkey, and a mule, and an ass,” and in the next chapter, abruptly throws his pipe overboard as smoking no longer gives him any pleasure. Hmm. Something on your mind, there, Big A?

  • Ishmael’s AWOL: I felt Ishmael’s absence in this section, as he steps back into a more traditional narrator role. I got to thinking about his motivation for taking part in the voyage in the first place. Ishmael presents it as basically his wanting to see the world, and having nothing better to do. YOLO, if you will. Or should I say YOJO? (Nailed it!) I hope we get back into Ishmael’s head soon.
  • Pre-Post-Modern: This section has a couple of passages that could fit in a postmodern novel, despite being written before postmodern, or even modern, was a thing. First, there are some structural oddities, like two chapters called “Knights and Squires,” which I thought was a Kobo fail at first. My favourite chapter so far, and the most “postmodern” in this section, is The Advocate, in which Ishmael turns away from the action to rant about the “injustice hereby done to us hunters of whales.”  He gives examples of arguments against whaling and skewers them. He really gets worked up. 

No dignity in whaling? The dignity of our calling the very heavens attest. Cetus is a constellation in the south! No more! Drive down your hat in the presence of the Czar, and take it off to Queequeg!

Tune in Next Week: Everything you wanted to know about whales but were too afraid to ask.

WWW Banner

Tweetbanner

Actually I thought the short chapters would be helpful:

Check out this great comment from Heather on last week’s post, about Ishmael and Queequeg:

As far as the relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg, I like how Melville used language about marriage and love to describe their friendship. We discussed this in an American Lit college course I took, and we came to the conclusion that we have to be careful about simplifying this too much. Theirs is a very deep, connected friendship, but not really in anyway sexual. To get hung up on the what we see as a potential sexual side to their relationship (not that I’m saying you’re doing this at all) is to miss out on how special/tight their friendship is.

What did you think of this section? Link to your blog post below and drop me a line in the comments.

Reading Roundup: May 2013 Blogging Breakthrough

TBR Pile

A literal To Be Read Pile.

Last month I committed to writing a little bit everyday. I didn’t quite make it, but I blogged TWELVE times this month, which is like WHOA compared to my usual two posts. My secret is to let go of perfectionism. Not every post has the most perfect picture, or every book title and twitter account linked. It’s that kind of thing that makes me spend too much time obsessing rather than just writing and interacting, which is kind of the point of blogging, for me.

Any of you bloggers out there have tips to keep a good blogging streak going?

Books Read

  • Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer. 5 Stars. The night I finished this book, I bawled for an hour. I was doing that thing where you flip ahead to make sure something awful wasn’t about to happen, because if it was, you need to mentally prepare. But I couldn’t prepare for the ending, obviously. Just go read this, please. Review coming once I can emotionally handle it.

Books ObtainedThe Outlander

  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy. People recommended this book to me a few times after my post about dark and depressing reads. My mom found it at a used book sale for $2. Score!
  • The Outlander by Gil Adamson. Another score at the book sale, and I just realized it’s the Canada Reads selection from a few years back – my copy has a different cover. Excited for this one. You had me at “19 year old widow by her own hand.”
  • Dance, Gladys, Dance by Cassie Stocks. I was very fortunate to get a signed copy of this Leacock Medal winner courtesy of Matt at NeWest Press. Pickle Me This calls it feminist and smart. Sounds good to me.

Books I Want to Read

Swimming to Elba

  • Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels. Cannot for the life of me remember where I read a review, but I know I added it to the list immediately. I also know it won the Orange Prize in 1997 and that’s good enough for me.
  • Molotov Hearts by Chris Eng. Read about this punk rock YA book over at Alexis Keinlen’s blog. What can I say, a boy with a mohawk broke my heart once.
  • Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone. Sounds like a good coming of age book. Will pick it up despite annoying cliche “girl facing away” cover.
  • She Rises by Kate Worsley. Read this review at She Reads Novels and added it to the list when I read “reminds me of Sarah Waters.”

On the Blog

I officially posted enough this month to justify a recap.

Reviews

#MobyDick2013 – Moby Dick Read-A-Long

Events, Memes, and Randomness

What’s Next on Reading in Bed

#MobyDick2013 continues, I’ll probably start planning my beach reads for July (I like to plan ahead) and a #yegbooks fall preview. Stay tuned!

Moby Dick Read-A-Long Chapters 1-15: Fine Young Cannibals

Welcome back, read-a-longers! We finally get to talk about the actual book. Share your thoughts in the comments, or better yet, link to your own post.

Lost at sea? For all the details on this read-a-long, including schedule and sign up, click here.

Etymology and Excerpts

The book starts with the origin of the word “whale” and a collection of whale-related excerpts from literature, philosophy, and scripture. This section reminded me of when Homer Simpson tries to teach himself about marketing by reading an advanced marketing book, and trades down to simpler and simpler books until he’s reading the dictionary.

Homer Simpson Marketing

Via 9gag.com

The excerpts are great. They show the huge variety of ways in which people deify and demonize whales. Of course, the excerpts only go up to the mid 1800s, and I couldn’t help but think about the modern ones I would add:

  • Blubber by Judy Blume: Talking about bullying before it was cool. She didn’t even have to wear a pink shirt.
  • She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb: Just your basic girl meets dying whale, girl goes batshit crazy story.
  • Free Willy: Charming children’s movie and popular euphemism for taking one’s dick out.

Okay, onto the actual story!

Chapters 1-15

  • Lots of lead up: Chapters 1-15 take us up to page 83 in my paper copy, and we haven’t even got on the boat yet. This section is all about setting the scene, introducing our narrator (call him Ishmael) and his BFF, the heavily-tattooed “Feegeean” Queequeg. We follow Ishmael from New York City to New Bedford to Nantucket as he prepares to go on his first whaling voyage.
  • Lots of funny: The tone of this first section is surprisingly light and funny. Hilarious, actually. Ishmael’s roundabout logic as he explains why he decides to take part in Queequeg’s “pagan rituals” made me LOL:

I was a good Christian; born and bred in the bosom of the infallible Presbyterian Church. How then could I unite with this wild idolater in worshiping his piece of wood? But what is worship? thought I. Do you suppose now, Ishmael, that the magnanimous God of heaven and earth – pagans and all included – can possibly be jealous of an insignificant bit of black wood? Impossible! But what is worship? – to do the will of God? that is worship. And what is the will of God? – to do to my fellow-man what I would have my fellow-man to do to me – that is the will of God. Now, Queequeg is my fellow-man. ANd what do I wish that this Queequeg woudl do to me? Why, unite with me in my particular Presbyterian form of worship. Consequently, I must then unite with him in his; ergo, I must turn idolater.

  • Heart of Darkness: I can’t help but compare the way Queequeg is introduced to the way Conrad talks about the “savages” in Heart of Darkness. Conrad’s European characters are half thrilled, half disgusted by the thought that they have anything in common with the “savages” they encounter in The Congo.  Queequeg is certainly seen as “other,” and Ishmael is terrified of him at first, but Ishmael accepts him so quickly, and so readily, and not just as a shipmate but as a friend (or perhaps more, see below,) despite the fact that he sells shrunken heads and is casually described as a cannibal.

For all this tattooings he was on the whole a clean, comely looking cannibal.

  • HoYay!: For those not familiar with this television-fandom term, HoYay! is short for “Homoeroticism, Yay!” and refers to situations, dialogue, etc. that could be interpreted to have homoerotic undertones, and suggests that fans of the show are generally in favour of this interpretation, usually in a somewhat ironic way. Exhibit A:
    Ryan and Seth

    California, Here We Come

    Ishmael and Queequeg meet in the bedroom and things just get cozier from there. I was most definitely NOT expecting this element of the story, and I think I finally get the “HoYay!” concept, because it is indeed delightful.

Thus, then, in our hearts’ honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg – a cosy, loving pair.

Tune in Next Week: 

Chapter 16 is called “The Ship” so things are about to get nautical.

WWW Banner

Tweetbanner

 

 

Heather of Between the Covers has the distinction of the first person to giggle about the Dick in Moby Dick. I am shocked it took this long.

@ebookclassicsand I are reading neck and neck!

Moby Dick Read-A-Long Post #1: Thar She Blows

What better time to start reading a Victorian novel than Victoria Day? I don’t have much to share about the book yet, as I’ve just dipped my toe in, but here are a few bits and pieces as we get started.

What’s All This Then?

We’re reading Moby Dick from May 20 – July 22. For all the details and to sign up, click here.  Here’s the schedule:

  • Start date and Introductory Post: Monday, May 20th, 2013. 
  • Etymology + Chapters 1-15: May 27th
  • Chapters 16-30: June 3
  • Chapters 31-45: June 10
  • Chapters 46-60: June 17
  • Chapters 61-75: June 24
  • Chapters 76-90: July 1
  • Chapters 91-105: July 8
  • Chapters 106-120: July 15
  • Chapters 121-136 + Epilogue : July 22

My Editions of Moby Dick

I bought a second hand, no-nonsense, 2004 edition of the physical book. No intro, no biography, just the text.

Henry's ready.

Henry’s ready.

I attempted to replicate 101 Book’s hilarious My 2-Year-Old Judges Books By Their Covers by asking my three year old what he thought this book was about. I’m a little alarmed by what he came up with: “The whale swings his tail. Swish swish. Then the men come and BANG HIM!”

I’ll do most of my reading on my Kobo. I’ve had bad luck with free ebooks, but local MD fan @Wittermeir tells me this is a good one. He’s also kindly lending me Why Read Moby Dick by Nathaniel Philbrick, so I’ll be able to share tidbits with you. Moby Dick fans are the best!

mobydickebook

Click for the free ebook

My Hopes for Moby Dick:

  • That I’ll be surprised by something. I’ve peeked at the first few chapters, and so far, I’m surprised by how funny it is. I’m often surprised when big scary classics are funny or romantic. If there’s a romantic element in MD, that’ll be something.
  • That reading and understanding Moby Dick will give me a deeper appreciation of other literature. After reading Dostoyevsky and Mann last year, I found allusions to and reflections of their writing in all sorts of surprising places. I suspect Melville’s influence is just as large as theirs, if not larger.

My Fears:

  • The descriptions of the whale and whaling will put me to sleep. After years of sleep deprivation, it doesn’t take much.
  • That I won’t get it. That the meaning of this book will fly over my head. You guys will help me out though, right?

Here are a couple features that I hope to include every Monday.

WWW Banner

Moby Dick Card Game

Slightly cooler than D&D.

I’ve always found it strange that a culture that creates a clear demand for television programs about things like crab fishing, tuna fishing, logging, trucking, duck hunting, and working in pawn shops is a culture that poo-poos the sort of documentary view Melville often gives us of whaling.

Tweetbanner

Comment below to share which edition you’re reading, and your thoughts going into this crazy read-a-long. Once you’ve written this week’s post, add a link to it (and check out the others) by clicking the Mr. Linky icon:

Moby Dick Read-A-Long: One Week Warning

Moby Dick Read-A-Long

One week till we set out to sea…

Here’s the sign-up post. Just leave me a comment and you’re entered to win a sweet Moby Dick t-shirt. You should probably also, like, read the book and participate in the Read-A-Long. Check that sign up post for details.

I’m planning an introductory post for next Monday to kick things off. Maybe you want to do one too. I’m going to write about:

  • What I know about Moby Dick before I start reading
  • What I’m looking forward to, and what I’m scared of
  • Thoughts about long/hard books in general

You can write about whatever you want. Maybe you have a really cool edition of the book? You’ve tried to read it before but didn’t make it? I’d love to hear about it!

Has anyone started reading yet? I have. I was between books, and I can’t start anything contemporary due to a massive book hangover (Frances and Bernard. READ IT.) and I don’t want to start any other classics, so, I’m getting a head start.

I leave you with 15-month old Henry, looking quite amazed as he reads his Babylit edition of Moby Dick (their website is wonky right now, so linking to their Facebook page.)

BabyLit Moby Dick

Book snob in the making

Reading Roundup: April 2013 and Edmonton Reading Scene

Last month, I was feeling pretty smug about getting back on track with reading. I still am, actually, because I read FOUR books this month. But, I only blogged twice. I have so many ideas, abandoned drafts, and book reviews to catch up on. I’ve decided to focus on writing for the next little while. The timing is pretty great, because I’m hosting a Moby Dick readalong starting this month, which means weekly blog posts (gulp.)

It’s tough, because I can’t write from my phone, so I’m limited to when the kids are in bed. We’re trying to limit Ben’s computer time, so I have to set an example. I’ve been reading more by sneaking it in  – that Kobo is in my purse at all times! – but it’s hard to carry the laptop everywhere. Maybe I need to take a “just a little bit everyday” approach like I did with reading. Wish me luck!

Books Read

Kelly Oxford Everything's Perfect When You're A Liar

I hate this cover more than anything in the book.

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen. 3.5/5 stars, I have nothing bad to say about it, but it didn’t really get to me. Great heroine, though.
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams.  3/5 stars. This was my Classics Club Spin pick. I actually liked the second book in the series, The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, much more. The strength of the books is largely in the main character, and he was oddly absent for much of the first book.
  • The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje. 5/5 stars. Boom. Review (and rebuttal to The Book-a-Week Project’s review) coming soon.
  • Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford. 3/5 stars. I was sort of dreading this, in case I hated it, but the worst thing I can say is that it was uneven. Also, it weirdly reminded me of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, for some really specific reasons, but even just in general, Briony was a little liar who wanted everything to be perfect, too. Must find time to elaborate!

Books Obtained

The Turn of the Screw BBC

Um how do I obtain this adaptation, that apparently has Lady Mary AND Matthew from Downton?

  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. So far, I’m not really into it. But it’s like 100 pages long, so I’ll stick it out.
  • Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer. My first library book in ages!  I’m really excited for this one. It’s an epistolary novel, which isn’t always my favourite. Also, “epistolary”  reminds me of “episiotomy,” which is never a good association. But the reviews are strong, and I could probably use some mega romance before getting into the mega whale.

Books I Want to Read

Villette Charlotte Bronte

I’m usually indifferent to “random portrait of a lady” book covers, but I love this one.

  • Villette by Charlotte Bronte. I abandoned Villette after the first chapter, when I realized it’s a 600 pager and wasn’t sure I could finish before the Moby Dick readalong. That’s the thing with e-readers. There’s no weight, no flipping through pages, so a 100 page novella and a 600 page brick look and feel the same. Anyway, I will come back to Villette, because the first chapter was amazing.
  • Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon. Vineland was my favourite read on 2012, so it’s pretty sweet that he’s got a new one coming out so soon. The first page was released online and it’s a little strange… but that’s par for the course.
  • The Rest is Silence by Scott Fotheringham. Rebecca Campbell mentioned this book in her Q&A. I read the premise (rogue bacteria destroys all the plastic in the world) and I’m already hooked! I don’t usually read dystopian or science fiction or however you want to classify this, but it sounds crazy.

 

Edmonton Reading SceneNeWest Spring Spectacular

  • Readings, signings, live music, tasty beverages… Less than two weeks until NeWest Press Spring Spectacular. I reviewed two of the books being celebrated, Belinda’s Rings and The Paradise Engine, and I’m so excited to meet the authors. The Edmonton Book Bloggers will be there. Won’t you come, too? May 15th, 7pm, Roast Coffee House.  Facebook event page.
  • Speaking of the EBB crew… Edmonton Book Bloggers were in the news! Kristilyn did us all proud by telling our story in the Edmonton Journal.
  • Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I found out about an annual literary event in Edmonton, the Henry Kreisel Memorial Lecture, that, much like the MacEwan Book of the Year, had me thinking “How am I only finding out about this NOW?” Each year, the U of A’s  Canadian Literature Centre puts on this FREE event, bringing a prominent Canadian author in to speak. On April 16, Edi Edugyan, author of Half-Blood Blues, talked about “home” and how that word and that idea has informed her work. She covered German history, slavery, immigration, and Canadian identity in her hour-long lecture. Her memories of visiting her ancestoral home in Ghana for the first time really came alive for me. The strangeness of being an outsider who looks like an insider was as compelling as the anecdotes about their wild taxi driver were hilarious. I would love to read a story along those lines! Check out Winter Distractions for fellow Edmonton Book Blogger’s Kristilyn’s take on Esi’s lecture.

What’s Next on Reading in Bed

Moby Dick! The read-a-long starts on May 20th, so finish up whatever you’re reading and watch for the sign up post next week.