The other day, Marisa asked if I could get her out Moby Dick the next time I visited the library. I tried to explain that it won’t be what she’s expecting, having grown up on cartoon versions of the hunt for the white whale. She still seemed keen, so who am I to stand between her and great literature?
When I bought her home a copy of the Everyman edition, she began flicking through, randomly announcing chapter titles as if continuing my argument that the book was more of an encyclopaedia than a novel.
I have quite an involved relationship with Moby Dick. Back in 2004 I tried to write my first novel. It was an ambitious proposition: on the surface it was a road trip from
It plainly didn’t work.
I still like some of the ideas in the manuscript, but it’s an absolute muddle, full of disjointed scenes and plain bad writing.
To open the book, I chose to echo Moby Dick by having an Etymology and an Extracts section, putting space between the front cover and the narrator’s first words (my version of “Call me Ishmael”). Reading over this now, three and a half years later, I can see all the ambition and verve I had when I set out to write
Am I a better writer now? Hard to say.
The real question is, am I still as ambitious?
Just the kind of question to ponder on a weekend jaunt to
Anyway, here for your reading pleasure is the Etymology section of the never to be published: Scaling Fish Island.
The poetically named North Island of New Zealand is located approximately 1600 kilometres southeast of
Happened upon by Abel Tasman in 1642,
Aotearoa, nowadays widely applied to the whole of
Another enduring Maori name for the