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An unspeakable crime in the heartland.
  1. Fury on Fire (Devil's Rock, #3) by Sophie Jordan
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If that's the kind of thing you think you might enjoy, by all means please do give it a whirl. View all 32 comments.

I was that precocious brat who first read the whale-esque sized Moby-Dick at the age of nine. I had my reasons, and they were twofold: 1 I was in the middle of my "I love Jacques Cousteau!

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In retrospect, there may have been an underlying pattern behind my childhood reading choices. From what I remember, I read this book as a sort of encyclopedia, a bunch of short articles about whaling and whale taxonomy and many ways to skin a whale and occasional interruptions from little bits of what as I now see it was the plot. It was confusing and yet informative - like life itself is to nine-year-olds. What do I think about it now, having aged a couple of decades? Well, now I bow my head to the brilliance of it, the unexpectedly beautiful language, the captivating and apt metaphors, the strangely progressive for its time views, the occasional wistfulness interrupted by cheek.

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The first third of it left me spellbound, flying through the pages, eager for more. Just look at this bit, this unbelievable prose that almost makes me weep yes, I'm a dork who can get weepy over literature.

Fury on Fire (Devil's Rock, #3) by Sophie Jordan

I blame it on my literature-teacher mother. So there. This is my substitute for pistol and ball.

With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. I could finally see what my nine-year-old past self did not care about and appropriately so, in the light of literal-mindedness and straightforwardness that children possess - Melville's constant, persistent comparison of whaling to life itself , using bits and pieces of whaling beliefs and rituals to illuminate the dark nooks and crannies of human souls, to show that deep down inside, regardless of our differences, we all run on the same desires and motives and undercurrents of spirit.

When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler form. It's what we all pursue - the difference is how. Melville gives us one of the extremes, the views of a single-minded fanatic, of one who puts everything aside, sacrifices everything and everyone else for the sake of a dream, of a desire, of a goal; the person who is capable of leading others unified in his focused, narrow, overwhelmingly alluring vision.

We can call Ahab a madman. We can also call him a great leader, a visionary of sorts - had he only used the charisma and the drive and the single-minded obsession to reach a goal less absurd, less suicidal less selfish. Had he with this monomaniac single-mindedness led a crusade for something we think is worthwhile, would we still call him a madman, or would we wordlessly admire his never-altering determination? Isn't the true tragedy here in Ahab focusing his will on destruction and blind revenge, leading those he's responsible for to destruction in the name of folly and pride?

Is that where the madness lies? For there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.


Really, the idea of a mere human considering it his right, his goal to stand up to the majestic nature force, armed with a destructive deadly weapon, and bring it to the end after a long chase in the ultimate gesture of triumph - that idea is chilling in its unremarkability. Humans taming and conquering nature, bending it to our will and desires, the world being our oyster - all that stuff. It is not new. It is what helped drive the industrial expansion of the modern society. It is what makes us feel that we are masters of our world, that our planet is ours to do whatever we, humans, please.

But Moby-Dick, finally abandoning his run from Ahab and standing up to him with such brutal ease is a reminder of the folly of such thinking and the reminder that there are forces we need to reckon with, no matter how full of ourselves we may get. Because the metaphors and parallels and meandering narration at times would get to be too much, because I quite often found my mind and attention easily wandering away in the last two-thirds of the book, needing a gargantuan effort to refocus.

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This what took of a star and a half, resulting in 3. The unharming sharks, they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage sea-hawks sailed with sheathed beaks. On the second day, a sail drew near, nearer, and picked me up at last. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan. View all 44 comments. Everyone eventually comes across the White Whale in one form or another.

The trick is to not keep its attention for too long. Dost thee have a five spot thou can see thyself parting ways with? Jibberjab up the wigwam! Cuisinart the poopdeck! What's that ye say? Thou canst not make heads nor tails of what I sayeth? Here then. Let me take this pipe outta my mouth and stop menacing you with this harpoon. No, no! I wasn't asking for money! I was asking if you've Everyone eventually comes across the White Whale in one form or another. I was asking if you've seen the White Whale! Okay, okay…well then, do you know who famously wrote, "The world seems logical to us because we have made it logical"?

Here's a hint: his bushy visage and even bushier philosophies have launched a thousand heavy metal bands. Take your time. I'll just hone the point of this harpoon… No again? No biggie, I'm happy to report that it is none other than one Friedrich Nietzsche. But we know what became of that crusty old phrenologist, don't we?

Moby-Dick, or, the Whale

He went nuts. Because he grew up in a house full of women, of course. But guess what? Turns out that hanging out with a bunch of guys doesn't work out too well, either. Especially when they're so monomaniacal about Dick. You know? The White Whale? Of course that's what I meant. What else did you ? You what? Put away all that sophomoric homoerotic stuff, won't you? Let us turn to the thrust of the plot. The long and hard plot, whose veiny, undulating, ruminative tributaries all lead back to the all-consuming desire for globulous sperm…aceti.

I know what you're thinking, "Who the hell does this guy think he is, reviewing a canonical work like Moby-Dick? What aplomb! Who says aplomb any more? Yeah, yeah. You're right.

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I should put the harpoon back down. I just get worked up sometimes. This is the fourth time I've read this weighty tome, and I ain't gonna lie -- I may not be able to bend spoons with my mind, but I'm not as scared of clowns as I used to be. For reals.