Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rereading Moby-Dick: Chapters II-VII or Are We On the Boat Yet?

So are we on the boat yet? No. Not even close. Which means we’re miles (leagues?) from that white whale.

Back in grad school I had a great screen writing professor who would constantly yell, “When telling the story of Goldilocks, bring on the bears!” He was wrong. Well, he was right but also wrong. What he probably meant was get to the point, get to the action, quit navel-gazing at how sensitive a writer you are and how girls just don’t get that…hypothetically that’s what he meant. But that’s also horrible advice. What kind of shitty story would Goldilocks be if she just walked into the house and the bears immediately burst in and said, “Hey, get out of my house”? Those precious moments when Goldilocks is wandering around eating their porridge and breaking their chairs and snuggling their beds is the sweet spot--it’s glorious anticipation. Because as a reader, you know she’s going to get it. And your anticipation of what’s going to happen next is invariably better than whatever happens next.

In these chapters of Moby-Dick, we get, not just Ishmael trying out all the bear options of the whaling towns from the inns and the streets and the chapel, where we get his comic view of life, one that will be hard pressed on the Pequod, but we also meet Queequeg. Queequeq!

No comments: