Book Review: Moby Dick

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Chapter 4. The Old Used Bookstore


Entering that gable-ended used bookstore, you found yourself in a narrow room, crowded with bookshelves, book stacks, boxes of books, more a place for discarded paper than a repository of knowledge. Such unaccountable masses of paper, must, mold, it seemed the nostalgic creation of some book-loving-or-hating Damien Hirst. But what confounds you the most in this bookstore is the heavy weight of unread and unloved things in the world, an orphanage for the dreams of liberal arts majors, and the used bookstore owner, some dreary soul, burdened with the lumpy, soggy, blotchy forms of the world's unloved.


Yet was there a sort of indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable sublimity about it that you find yourself marveling before.


"Buy something?"


"Huh?"


"Do you intend to buy something?"


You stare at the man, deaf and dumb at his question. Of course, you don't intend to buy anything. That's not the purpose of the used bookstore. Instead, you intend to stare, sympathetically at this monument to human failure...as one would a Damien Hirst exhibit.


"Buy something?"


Isn't your sympathy enough? And when the winter comes and the flowers freeze and die, the bookshop-keeper too will pass away, and another, equally old and pitiable sapling will spring forth to take its place.


The old man holds up an old, moldy copy of Moby Dick. "How about this one?"


You hold up your e-Reader, and as you do, the old bookstore keeper appears to you suspended perpendicular, dissected into three pieces, in three adjacent boxes with his mouth open, as if to be saying perpetually into a void, "Buy something?"


Chapter 5. 30 Years to the Chase!


"Oh, reader! It is a mild, mild day. On such a day, I did write my first short story. An elementary student, yes, an elementary student. Thirty, yes, thirty years ago! Thirty years of continual writing! Thirty years of privation, peril, and solitary penmanship! Thirty years of making war on the mysteries of the human condition! Since then I have not spent one week without a short something being written. How for thirty years I have feasted upon nothing but concise prose and weary, used pages of long abandoned books. Ah, ah, Daniel has furiously, foamingly chased his prey -- the literary masterpiece -- more a demon than a man. A fool--fool--old fool Daniel has been. Why the chase? Why palsy the hands with this foolish chase? Behold, reader, locks of grey in the hair and nothing to show for it but tears and rejection slips. I feel deadly faint, bowed, and humped, as though every rejection had seeped into my bones. Stand close to me, reader! Look into these eyes. Do you see the imaginary worlds waiting to get out? Branded, I am with such imaginary world! And thusly, do I give chase to the great literary masterpiece!"


"Oh weary writer, grand old soul, after all your toil, why do you still give chase to the literary masterpiece? Away with me! Let us fly to a pub or some other diversion to get your mind off of this foolish chase! Away! let us away!—this instant let us go for a pint or a snack, some delirious debauch to sooth the savage writer's soul."


But the writer's glance averted. Like a palm tree in a hurricane, he shook.


"What nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing drives me forward; what hidden lord and master; that against all inclinations to just chill and share a beer with a bro or take time away to play some X-box, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself toward that far off creature -- literary masterpiece? Aye, thirty years to the chase...and thirty years more if need be!"


Chapter 6. Post-Review Interview


Interviewer: So, how do you feel about this book review? Do you feel you nailed it?


Daniel: Perhaps...I think the review was fine. The book at times was a slog, so it was nice to do a creative review that mixed some of the elements from various chapters...and doing it in five or six sections helped keep me fresh throughout.


Interviewer: Was it a good book? Anything lacking?


Daniel: More Ishmael and Queequeg, please! I wish I had gotten a bit more of them at the end. The book started off strong with these characters, so I was disappointed that it was more of Ahab and Starbuck's story at the end. I also wish someone had listed all the chapters that were just about whaling that I could cut out and still enjoy the book.


Interviewer: Are you going to do another long review like this soon or do you plan to take some time off?


Daniel: I think before I take on another long book review like this, I'm going to do a training montage, Rocky 4 style, in a very cold place. I'm going to play the song "Hearts on Fire" continuously while staring down a copy of War and Peace and doing sit-ups. At the end of my training montage, I'll run up a mountain and yell at the top of my lungs..."Tolstoy!...Tolstoy!"

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