The Literary Man is reading Joyce’s ULYSSES. The Verbal Vixen is slogging through Cortazar’s HOPSCOTCH. The Tempestuous Temptress is consuming Proust’s A LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU (In Search of Lost Times) in its entirety. These are all worthy choices, yes, but truly, if you’re going to dive head first into a classic and attack one book and one book only this summer that’s been on your reading list forever, we suggest that you read MOBY DICK.
Moby Dick is an ode to the sea, an ode to the vastness of nature, an ode to the power and beauty of an animal species that was once an integral part of civilization but with the exception of animal lovers and environmentalists is now mainly forgotten. Moby Dick is a hard read, but it also is a fascinating study of human nature and cetology, as well as a detailed recounting of what the whaling life was really like.
But of all the books on all the shelves in all the stores why this one? This book has power. Strong, true, and devastating, Moby Dick takes you on its wild ride with Captain Ahab, Queequeg, Starbuck, and the rest. Getting through Moby Dick takes the same inhuman effort and patience that Captain Ahab shows in searching for his white whale. In this, when the final page comes, and all is at an end, you too will be ravaged. You will know Captain Ahab’s insatiable quest, and feel Ishmael’s peace when Melville writes, “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”