Monthly Archives: February 2020

{Book} Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick; or, the Whale

Moby-Dick; or, the Whale by Herman Melville

A sailor called Ishmael narrates the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, a white whale which on a previous voyage destroyed Ahab’s ship and severed his leg at the knee. (via Goodreads)

I’ve become one of those people.

I first read Moby-Dick in January of 2017. I knew I would read it again one day, but I didn’t expect it to be so relatively soon. I wasn’t immediately on-board (*cough*) when Brona announced a readalong. But the idea grew on me and I decided, why not?

And I’ve come to realize that Moby-Dick is going to be a book I reread often throughout the rest of my life.

Michael Chabon has a theory about fandom that I will clumsily paraphrase from Maps and Legends: fandom is created in the cracks of fiction. His example is Sherlock Holmes. Those Doyle stories have become an enduring institution, continually adapted and rebooted, because there are so many inconsistencies and alluded to stories within the cannon. Fans want to know, what they can’t know they’ll interpret and fill-in.

And I can see that in Moby-Dick. The people who read this weird novel over and over again (and I’m one of them) want to know more of what’s going on. We want to know more about the character’s intentions, but also Melville’s.

This time around, I really enjoyed some of my fellow reader’s thoughts as well has keeping a Twitter thread of things that stood out to me:

I also read Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby-Dick by George Cotkin.

Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby-Dick

Cotkin provides some interesting tangents, chapter for chapter. Sometimes these tangents were literary criticism, sometimes historical context, sometimes cultural context. Yes, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is covered. As well as the dubious Emoji Dick.

“What next?” Brona asks.

A book hangover! Actually, I attempted another book-at-sea, but it didn’t work out. Instead, I’m enthralled by the nonfiction book Bad Blood. But then, it’s sort of about an Ahab running a biomedical start-up. But I found my copy of Green Shadows, White Whale, Ray Bradbury’s story of writing the screenplay to John Huston’s Moby-Dick. I’ll reread it in a month or two, I think.

Green Shadows, White Whale

Monday Salon, 2/24

Sunday Salon
*cough*

Books

Finished Moby-Dick! For the second time. I was intending to follow the leisurely schedule that Brona originally set, but I need to return Dive Deeper to the library on Thursday and the last few chapters are a down-hill path. I plan on posting about both on Thursday.


Next up, The Deep by Alma Katsu. Guess I’ll be spending more time on boats…

Movies

My movie of the week is Desperado (1995, dir. Robert Rodriguez).

Desperado is not a great film; my friend Tania and I saw it at least three times in the theater. (Probably once first-run and a couple more times when it was at the second-run theater.) It walks, not as gracefully as the Mariachi on a bar top, a line between earnestness and ridiculousness. The dialogue is clunky, the violence is over the top. But it also has a few things that sets it apart from the clunky, over-the-top 80s action films we grew up on. First, there’s  Antonio Banderas as the Mariachi. In a land of quipy characters played by Arnold, Stallone, and clean-cut Tom Cruise, the Mariachi is a very good-looking romantic anti-hero. Equally lovely is Salma Hayek as a bookshop owner. How could two nerds like us not love her character? It’s also shot really well. Robert Rodriguez has an eye for action, but cinematographer Guillermo Navarro creates art amid the explosions and blood squibs.

Other Stuff

Spring League draft was on Wednesday. Eric and I are on the same team along with quite a few other people we’ve played with in the past. The first game is tomorrow! My legs have been pretty leaden lately. Hopefully, I won’t suck too much.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Deal Me In, Week 7 ~ “The Daunt Diana”

DealMeIn

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“The Daunt Diana” by Edith Wharton

Card picked: 3♦
Found at: Tales of Men and Ghosts

“WHAT’S become of the Daunt Diana? You mean to say you never heard the sequel?”

Ringham Finney threw himself back into his chair with the smile of the collector who has a good thing to show. He knew he had a good listener, at any rate.

I decided at the beginning of the year to add one of my Classics Club books to my Deal Me In list. Two birds with one stone! So, I’ll be reading through Edith Wharton’s Tales of Men and Ghosts throughout the year.

The Story
I wondered somewhat about the title of the story: “The Daunt Diana.” What is meant by daunt? It turns out that Daunt is a collector of art, and the Daunt Diana is a statue of the goddess Diana owned by Daunt. Strangely, the actual artist who carved the Diana is never named.

Finney tells our listener about Humphrey Neave, a man with tastes more expensive than his means. Neave is deeply envious of the kind of art collection that Daunt owns, one effortlessly obtained by a very rich man. As fate would have it, both Daunt’s and Neave’s fortunes change and Neave, haunted by the Diana, buys the entire collection. One would presume that Neave would now be a very happy man. Not so! There had been no hunting for his art, no wooing, and Neave is left unfulfilled. So, Neave sells off the collection piece-meal. And then goes about buying each piece back. But can he regain the sculpture which again haunts him, the crown jewel of the collection? Can he woo Diana back?

Finney has a very particular voice which makes this story quite enjoyable, even as I rolled my eyes and muttered, “Rich people…”

The Author
Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. Which means of course I want to read some of her ghost stories.

Pick a Card, Any Card

This week, cards inspired by Italian art: the Sistine deck created by Julio Ribera. Found at Kardify and on Kickstarter.

Sunday Salon, 2/16

Sunday Salon

Books

Moby-Dick Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby-Dick

Slow week. I’m still working on what I was reading last week. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl did not go back to the library. Also I’m behind on Moby-Dick.

Television

I watched the most recent BBC adaptation of Dracula. It took me a while to realize that the Dracula that was prominently being displayed on my Netflix front page was the Dracula which the UK corner of my internet was talking about back in January.  The splash page just made it feel a little…cheesy. It wasn’t, but it did suffer from some of the same problems as the last season of Moffat and Gatiss’s Sherlock: the confidence that, no matter how deep the plot hole, if you run over it fast enough, no one will lose a tire. That being said, I really did enjoy Claes Bang as Dracula.

But really, I’d rather see two things before I see another Dracula adaptation: Glen Hirshberg’s Motherless Children trilogy get a TV treatment and a series adaptation of Bram Stoker’s life Ă  la Jim Steinmeyer’s Who Was Dracula?

Other Stuff

Still reading on Eric’s PHYSIC series. We’re probably not going to publish this year, but from my point of view (someone reading for smoothness and the occasional additional comma), these books are in darn good shape.

Spring league draft will be this week if not tonight (I doubt it’s tonight), so I’ll have teams and whatnot to post. Kevin, one of the founding members of Valley of the Sun Ultimate Association, has been scanning some of his old papers including community newsletters starting in 1989. I’m going to revamp of our archives to include more than leagues and New Year Fest. It should go fast once I decide how I want to organize everything.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Down the TBR Hole 28

TBRHole

This is a meme started by Lia at Lost in a Story. The “rules” are:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m modifying this a little since my to-read shelf is a mess of books that are mostly in storage. Instead, I’m going to look at my wishlist—all those books I add on a whim during my travels around the book blogging community—and weed out the ones that don’t quite sound as good now. The “keepers” I’m going to look for at online libraries or add to my Amazon wishlist.

Perilous Life of Jade Yeo cover The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho

I just mentioned last week that I’ve read some of Zen Cho’s short fiction and liked it. Also, this is set in the 20s and sounds really fun. KEEP!

Shadows in Summerland Shadows in Summerland by Adrian Van Young

There is something about long summaries that make me lose confidence in a story. A book set in the 1850s with the most famous spirit photographer as a character? There’s no way this should be a GO. But it is.

 

Sharkpunk cover Sharkpunk by Jonathan Green

While I have an appreciation of sharks as very important animals, they are also part of my nightmares. I’ll be KEEPing this anthology of killer shark stories.

Go Figure cover Go Figure: Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know by Tom Standage

Tom Standage wrote one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time: The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine. This book seems like a compilation of lighter, frivolous things, but sometimes you need light and frivolous. KEEP.

alt text The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher

Honestly, I’ve always been a little on the fence about this one, though I’ved like many Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher books. I’m not such a fan of marriage-aspected fairy tales. I think I’ll let this one GO.

Anyone have any experience with any of these? Any arguments for KEEP or GO?

Sunday Salon, 2/9

Sunday Salon

Jumping back in after  a week or two of not much blogging.

Books

Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe The Book of the Damned (Illustrated)

What I’d like to read this week:

  • Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories, edited by Neil Christopher
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe by Ryan North & Erica Henderson – Before it goes back to the library on Tuesday! (Maybe I’ll write some thoughts on Squirrel Girl later in the week.)
  • The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort – My next Classics Club book.

Movies & Television

Started up our NetFlix streaming again. This week I watched Marriage Story (2019), The Invitation (2015), and a season of The Great British Bake-Off which I hadn’t seen, but the winner of the week for me is Train to Busan (2016).

Man, if I keep finding zombie movies I like, I’m going to have stop saying I don’t like zombie movies… This movie is pretty much exactly what my nightmares are like: run and hide, still in immanent danger from a peril I don’t exactly understand, and while the world is pretty much falling apart, the peril is very personal. It sounds punny, but this is such a ride. Scary and surprisingly touching.

Tonight, I will be watching the Oscars, though I haven’t seen too many nominated pictures. It might be going against current talk, but I think Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is going to take home top honors. (Haven’t seen it myself.) In a return to tradition, I’ll be eating brownies as my Oscar “party.”

Other Stuff

I’ll be reading though SOUThErN AlLiaNCe, the fourth book in Eric’s PHYSIC series which he’s been editing. I’m also going to be working on the cover for “Mephisto” the Marvellous Automaton, the next Entangled Tome I’ll be releasing.

Thinking about taking a sketching class.

Getting back into ultimate frisbee after a couple months of our playing being thwarted by weather and health reasons. Spring League starts in a couple weeks and it would be nice if I were back in the swing of things before then.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Down the TBR Hole #27

TBRHole

This is a meme started by Lia at Lost in a Story. The “rules” are:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m modifying this a little since my to-read shelf is a mess of books that are mostly in storage. Instead, I’m going to look at my wishlist—all those books I add on a whim during my travels around the book blogging community—and weed out the ones that don’t quite sound as good now. The “keepers” I’m going to look for at online libraries or add to my Amazon wishlist.

Powers of Darkness cover Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula by Bram Stoker & Valdimar Ásmundsson

I like Dracula. I’ve read it three or four times now, and I think I’ll read again after I finish Moby Dick. Powers of Darkness is the translation back to English of Icelandic writer Valdimar Ásmundsson’s translation (and rewriting) of Stoker’s book. I actually did start to listen to an audio version of this and didn’t care for it, but I might have a different reaction to the text. So, KEEP for now.

Cemeteries by Moonlight cover Cemeteries by Moonlight by Hunter Frost

At some moment in the past, I was in the mood for gothicy, romancy mystery/horror, but this sounds a little too cheesy now. GO.

Sorcerer to the Crown cover Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

I’ve read a few of Zen Cho’s short stories and really enjoyed them. The plot sounds charming. KEEP.

Summer in Orcus cover Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher

I’m sold at “When the witch Baba Yaga walks her house into the backyard” in the blurb. I’m up for anything Baba Yaga. KEEP.

Sublime Dreams cover Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination by Minsoo Kang

I would love to read this book. I just wish the university press that publishes it wouldn’t charge so dang much for it, or allow wider library availability. KEEP because it is a “wish” list, after all.

Anyone have any experience with any of these? Any arguments for KEEP or GO?