These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Monday, January 02, 2006

ahab's what?

one of my favorite books is "moby dick," which i have read about three times. i am certainly no scholar on the enormous novel nor do i claim to be. i do love it, though, because it goes all over the map, so to speak.

this year, when i was at a loss for what to read next, i thought it might be time to start with the book again. then a coworker told me a few months ago that she was reading "ahab's wife; or, the star gazer" (by sena jeter naslund). it intrigued me because i didn't know ahab had a wife; he makes no appearance in the novel.

my intrigue gave way to simple curiosity. the more my coworker melanie talked about it, the more i thought i should read it.

after finally going through a few books that were ahead of it (and a failed read of michael richton's state of fear, which i had waited to read for over a year), i began reading it several weeks ago. it's an enormous book, over 600 pages, very moby dick-like.

and though i am less than 150 pages into the book, it's a very interesting period piece. the author has a good opening line, somewhat like melville's "call me ishmael."
the first line (paraphrased) of "ahab's wife" is "ahab wasn't my first husband nor was he my last." interesting way to harpoon a reader into reading it.

i don't want to give any of the book away in case anyone reading this should be curious enough to read the book. but i'll say it's a narration, first-person, of una, ahab's wife, from her life in kentucky to the high seas. though, at my point in the book, she's barely aboard a ship. i'm told there ae whaling chapters, much like moby dick. i say bring them on. i did not, could not is more like it, skip the whaling chapters of melville's novel, nor can i skip these chapters when i come upon them.

apparently since i'm not a "moby dick" scholar, i missed the short section where ahab mention's his wife. indeed, he does. and so naslund took this small piece of melville's literature and wrote a gigantic novel herself. what genius to do so. perhaps one day i can sit with the author and talk about moby dick and her book. i have a feeling that i will also be rereading naslund's book in the future and use it as a companion piece to "moby dick."


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