Continuing on with “Moby Dick”/What I am Reading

This week sees me returning to the wretched sea after a bit of a break; I note that my ‘reading partner’ also took a bit of a break as well. They’re a bit behind me. Of particular interest this week is “The Town-Ho’s Story” which is, I think, the longest chapter in Moby Dick. It’s basically a self contained short story, told by Ishmael some years after the events of Moby Dick; he recounts it in a bar in Lima, Peru. 

It’s also the first “gam” in the book– a gam is when two ships meet and they exchange stories, mail, and news, and Melville outlines this process in a chapter called, er, “The Gam”. Most of “The Town-Ho’s Story” concerns itself with a tale  of a near-mutiny, ending with one of the protagonists meeting a grim fate in the jaws of Moby Dick; a story which Ishmael’s listeners at the bar barely believe. It’s a very strange chapter in a book filled with strange chapters. It’s exceedingly rare that a book gives us some idea of the life of a character outside of the story– we know Ishmael is alive as he’s the narrator, but this gives us a view into his later years, a presumably grizzled whaleman telling tales in bars. I like to imagine him happy. 

An earlier chapter, “Spirit Spout” has an absolutely frightening image of Ahab spending inhuman amounts of time on the deck, and, it’s discovered, sleeping in a chair rather than a hammock, presumably out of sheer exhaustion rather than a desire to rest. It’s an interesting image, and one that stuck with me. 

What I am reading 

“Moby Dick”– we’re about halfway through

“Pougemahone”– this is a strange read, but a good one

“Cyclonopedia”– also a weird one; I wrote a little about it last week. I may share some more thoughts as I go on.

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