Tag Archives: Moby Dick

Beare Goggles

The quickest way to turn anyone off reading books is presenting them with a long and unsolicited ‘must read’ list.  And the quickest way to make yourself look like a prize prat is putting a ‘must read’ list in the hands of an avid reader.  Because the avid reader will judge you on the basis of your list.

I’m an avid reader.  In fact, I’m an addict.  I’m essentially a peace-loving soul, but try to take away from me a book that I’m engrossed in… well, angels and ministers of grace defend you, is all I can say.  Because I won’t be defending you.  I’ll be doing my best to tear out your spine. Continue reading


J D Salinger And The Classic That Isn’t

Some books become classics in spite of themselves.

The most outstanding example of this strange phenomenon is without doubt Herman Melville’s Moby DickMoby Dick (let me spare you the trouble and the agony of reading it) is a very interesting short story about obsession.  But, for some reason, Melville decided it would be even better if it was sandwiched between a laughably obsolete encyclopaedia on whales and a very boring how-to guide to whaling.

The author of another classic-that-isn’t, J. D. Salinger, died this week.  He was 91.

Salinger is best known, of course, for The Catcher in the Rye, a book you’ve probably been forced to read at some time in your schooling.  The AFP called it a ‘seminal’ book, which ‘lent a voice to the angst and despair felt by generations of rebellious adolescents.’

To this I say: bollocks.

Since seminal means ‘containing or contributing to the seeds of later development’, I suppose we can let that one go, only pausing to mourn the fact that Catcher led to some sort of literary movement.  But ‘lent a voice to the angst and despair felt by generations of rebellious adolescents’?

I don’t know about you, but the last people on the planet I want to hear in full voice are angsty and rebellious adolescents.  Mostly because they all sound a lot like Holden Caulfield, the narrator of The Catcher in the Rye.  You’ve met them: they’re the ones alone in the corner at a party, muttering under their breath that ‘everyone’s shit, the music’s shit, the wine’s shit and… and it’s so lame having lollies at, like, a party, y’know.’ Continue reading