Didn’t Finish #2

Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn

The title is huge and overly verbose. So is the book.

I made it to page 163 or so before putting it aside.

In 1992, a shipping container filled with plastic bath toys went overboard during a storm in the northern Pacific Ocean. In the years that followed, the toys washed up on beaches in Alaska, Australia, and the United Kingdom.  How does this happen? Are plastic tub buddies even that durable? “Ocean currents” and “apparently so” seem to be the answers.

Donovan Hohn heard the story and became obsessed by it. Unfortunately, Moby-Duck is about Hohn’s obsession not the ducks, beavers, turtles, and frogs. His tale meanders, touching on science peripherally as he travels to Alaska and Hawaii (and other places that I didn’t get to). The narrative is awash in minutia, not of a scientific sort, but of the literary sort. Many of the reviews I read complained about the dense science material, but maybe I just didn’t get there. Instead, Hohn goes on about the boats and the landscapes, and blithely categorizes the people he interacts with. While I did learn a few things*, Hohn never goes into enough depth to keep my interest.

Abstruse Goose had a strip a week or so ago that seems applicable.

All in all, there was too much fluff and not enough crunch.

*For instance, cargo is lost overboard all the time. If shipping companies would actually cop to it, we could devise a very interesting portrait of ocean currents. The accident in 1992 was more well documented than most.

1 thought on “Didn’t Finish #2

  1. Pingback: 2012 Challenge Wrap-Up | The Writerly Reader

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