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Posted on Saturday 16 March 2013 at 8:09 am

Moby Dick and a Few Random Odds and Ends

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I've been reading Moby Dick and have been doing something with it that I've never done reading a book before: listen to it while reading it. I have audio play versions of almost every Shakespeare play, and will soon have them all, and have listened to those while looking at the text of the play but plays are meant to be performed not read so that feels natural. Moby Dick is a novel that is meant to be read. Last year and into early this year, there was an ongoing podcast called The Moby Dick Big Read. Every day for 137 days (136 chapters and an epilogue), an audio file of one chapter of Moby Dick was posted with a different reader (occasionally readers) for every day and they are all still available for download. Despite Moby Dick frequently being called A or even The Great American Novel, this was a British thing and the vast majority of the readers are British (e.g. Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry, David Cameron, David Attenborough, Benedict Cumberbatch, Roger Allam - also, no idea how carefully they picked the chapters for each reader but Stephen Fry's chapter is absolutely perfect for him and my favorite of all the readings I've heard so far). On the iPhone and I think most iPods, though not in iTunes on a PC and I've no idea about anything else, it is possible to play audiobook files at double speed. That's what I've been doing: playing the audio at double speed while reading the text.

This started as just a curious experiment and I assumed I'd quit after a chapter or two, maybe just checking back in with the Big Read for readers I particularly like, but I've absolutely loved it and listened to every chapter except three or four where the reader annoyed me or the audio just sucked too badly (many but not all are not professional quality and have background noises and static). If I were trying to listen at regular speed the reading would drive me insane as people reading aloud is so very much slower than my natural silent reading pace. The double speed, however, puts most of the readers at only somewhat slower than my natural reading speed. I am a very fast reader and I read for plot and character far more than description and even language most of the time. But there are some things where I want to slow down and bask in the beauty of the language and most of the time I have a hard time doing that. Moby Dick is definitely something where I should slow down and I don't know that I would have been able to on my own but the audio is slowing me just enough, and encouraging me to notice the language choices more, that I'm getting so much more out of it than I ever would have otherwise. I'm absolutely loving this and wondering what other books I should try to do this way.

I spent most of the day yesterday in bed with a migraine so I didn't get a meme post up. I should be able to do two later today.

Neverwhere starts today!

I've agreed to host a game day for the my department's grad students next Saturday. I might as well given that I have more board, card, etc. games than is reasonable for any one individual, a Wii with good group games such as Rock Band and Mario Kart, and a full-sized ping-pong table. This probably means I should thoroughly clean the house this weekend so I can do just a quick polish next Saturday before everyone comes over. I don't really want to clean the house this weekend.

For a break from Moby Dick, I spent half an hour at the library yesterday reading a graphic novel called The Irregulars. It is a Holmes pastiche focusing on, as probably expected, the street urchins known as The Baker Street Irregulars. My advice: don't waste your time. The black and white art isn't bad but the plot just sucks. It hits all the check boxes for "Oh, Look! I'm doing a Holmes pastiche!" without having anything worth saying or any real purpose. There's Irene Adler in a central role, Moriarty as the bad guy, encounters with Conan Doyle's other creation Professor Challenger, and, my generally speaking least favorite of the pastiche check boxes, let's force Holmes to confront something truly supernatural. Nothing original or interesting at all.


donutsweeper at 3:42 pm on 16 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
There's a bookstore on Long Island that did a live read of Moby Dick every year from cover to cover in one go. I vaguely remember thinking of going the summer we had to read it. I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the book, but maybe that's due to having to read the unabridged edition and my complete lack of interest in whale blubber.
bratty_jedi at 4:43 pm on 16 March 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Moby Dick in one go would be too much for me. I've been working on it all month and might finish this weekend but more likely sometime this upcoming week.

I can't say I'm overly interested in whale blubber or any other aspect of whale anatomy, but I've only rarely gotten bored with it and found my mind starting to wander. I remember reading a kid's illustrated abridged version when I was little but I think I'd be skeptical of any adult abridged version. I suppose cutting some of the just whale anatomy stuff could work.

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