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Photographs: Patrick McQuade

One-minute lecture: Moby-Dick

TONY Books editor and Moby-Dick Marathon participant Matthew Love presents a bluffer's guide to Herman Melville's epic tome.


Before you drop by the Moby-Dick Marathon NYC (Nov 16–18;, school up with this one-minute lecture on Melville's classic.

The essentials:
“Written in 1851 by Herman Melville, this seafaring doorstop of a novel concerns mad Captain Ahab, who suckers the multicultural crew of the whaleship Pequod into hunting the titular albino monstrosity who once took a bite out of Ahab’s leg. Spoiler: pretty much everyone dies.”

The hype:
“It mirrors a great sea voyage: grand setting, memorably scurvy dogs, epic adventure and stretches of slow time during which the waves and sea spray are the only company. The writing is experimental—one chapter is a play, several are long monologues and some are incredibly technical talk about whaling—but humane and funny. It’s the great white whale of American novels: Novelists chase after its grand, unique bulk knowing they’ll never conquer it.”

His tip:
“The marathon reading will be packed at the top for Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan, but you can also catch Sarah Vowell on Saturday 17 at 10am (Housing Works Bookstore Cafe), Rick Moody at 4pm or a nice run of local writers and critics leading up to Jonathan Ames at 11pm (both at Molasses Books). The aforementioned play section—Midnight, Forecastle—should be a great performance; it’ll start at around 11:30am (Housing Works Bookstore Cafe).”

Matthew Love will read expressively at WORD on Nov 16 at 10:30pm.

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