where the writers are
Reading Moby Dick
The Whale

Last summer I was traveling to promote The Lotus Eaters, spending lots of spare time in bookstores, and inevitably I ended up reading all the hot new titles. In a way, that was fun because I could compare my own impressions with new reviews coming out. A few deserved the hype — I loved Jennifer Egan's Visit from the Goon Squad. Others, well, let's say it was a case of the emperor having no clothes. 

This summer I'm returning to the classics. I've been daunted by Moby Dick for a long time so that was first up. I'm halfway through so I'll just say that if you forget that the book is a CLASSIC, if for example it had come out last year,  reviewers would probably say that it was wildly ambitious, original, and experimental. They would also say that the plot needs to be pumped up, that the book needs to lose those chapters on the history of whaling because they drag. It is not a perfect novel, but those imperfections give the book breathing space, mystery — a huge heart. As modern writers and readers, have we become more concerned with perfection than heart?

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Back to the Classics

Me, too, Tatjana. I've been revisiting some of the classic female writers - Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, the Brontes . . . modern editors would say, too rambling. Get to the point. But sometimes the rambling is the most interesting and flavorful part.

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I agree!

Hi Margo,
You are so right. Last summer I visited Wharton's estate in the Berkshires, and I'm ready to reread House of Mirth, too.

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Moby Dick

I downloaded Moby Dick on my Kindle a couple of months ago and am slowly working my way through it. I wonder what Melville's query letter would look like.