In this week’s readings, the Pequod set sail! In honor of that, Moby Dick Summer is adding a new feature to our Fridays—the Moby-Dick MiniPod.
There will still be recaps, but some Fridays will now have mini podcast interviews with writers and friends. We will chat about a favorite chapter in Moby-Dick from the past Monday or Wednesday. And I thought the best person to kick this series off would be one of my best friends—Sue Spang. Not only have Sue and I been friends since the age of 14 or so, but she has loved Moby-Dick for almost as long. In fact, she was maybe the only person in our 11th Grade English class who actually read the book. We discuss that in the podcast.
Also discussed: Chapter 26 "Knights and Squires" (not to be confused with Chapter 27 "Knights and Squires") — Starbuck and his characterization — the power of being a second-in-command — how the novel shifts between first- and third-person — Sue’s Moby-Dick tattoo — Moby-Dick as a fun puzzle — “Bartleby, the Scrivener” — Crispin Glover — the unique pains of being a Starbuck fan
Rockwell Kent’s drawings were made for the 1930 edition of Moby-Dick. My friend Chris has a beautiful copy of that 1930 edition and sent me a photo of it:
Chapters 23-31 were all relatively short and fun and they covered a lot of ground, jumping quickly from topics and characters in a way we haven’t seen the novel do yet. What was your favorite? Are you a fan of Starbuck and Chapter 26, like my friend Sue? Or is chain-smoking ‘chill dude’ Stubb more your guy, first introduced in Chapter 27? Maybe you liked (finally) getting that first glimpse of Ahab in Chapter 28. There’s also a few humorous chapters like Chapter 25 (“Postscript”) and Chapter 31 (“Queen Mab”), the latter of which sees Stubb committing that classic social faux pas—boring someone to death by telling them about your dream. (Flask’s only reply: “I don’t know; it seems a sort of foolish to me, tho.’”)
I enjoyed them all, but personally, my favorite might have been Chapter 23 (“The Lee Shore”), the chapter devoted to Bulkington, who had a brief appearance back in Chapter 3. Bulkington, who, like a ship in the middle of a storm, survives by continuously going out to sea, rather than risk being too close to land and crashing on the shore. There’s a metaphor in that somewhere, but I don’t think this character is ever going to appear again, he might not even be mentioned again. I actually hope not. It’s so true to life. He made a memorable impression, but Ishmael’s never really going to know this man. Instead, he writes—and this is an instance where I think referencing the novel as an actual text you’re reading works brilliantly—this six-inch chapter is the stoneless grave of Bulkington. Fuck! That is hardcore!