Category: Coffee Table Books

Episodic: Whale tales

Moby-Dick is the great American novel. But it is also the great unread American novel. Sprawling, magnificent, deliriously digressive, it stands over and above all other works of fiction, since it is barely a work of fiction itself. Rather, it is an explosive exposition of one man’s investigation into the world of the whale, and the way humans have related to it. Yet it is so much more than that. It is a representation of evil incarnate in an animal – and the utter perfidy of that notion. Of a nature transgressed and transgressive – and of one man’s demonic pursuit, a metaphorical crusade that even now is a shorthand for overweening ambition and delusion.

The Arts Institute, University of Plymouth, UK

Two Moby Dick things here: First, the University of Plymouth released all 135 chapters available online for free, each read by a different narrator. They are super well done (with delicious British accents!) and I’ve begun eating my way through this tome, one chapter a night before bed. They are available through a podcast feed, Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Music, and streaming it through this website.

Thing two: I love when humans are creatively obsessive about anything, when they jump all the way into their passions, often for absurd reasons. In 2009, artist Matt Kish illustrated his experience of the first page of Moby Dick. He kept going for 552 straits days. In 2011 he compiled it into a book fantastic accompaniment to the audio book mentioned above: Moby Dick in Pictures.

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