So, I’m on my fourth trip through Herman Melville’s masterpiece, Moby-Dick, courtesy of an excellent unabridged audio version read with aplomb, gusto, humor, and great pathos by the late character-actor William Hootkins. I’ll’ go out on a limb and suggest that Hootkins’s reading is so nuanced and attuned to Ishmael’s voice and Melville’s purpose that it would make a great starting point for anyone (unnecessarily) daunted by Melville’s big book.
I’ve been enjoying the book more than ever this time, in part because, knowing its themes, plot, and tone, I can relax a bit more and enjoy its nuance and humor, its weird little nooks and crannies. I’m also really digging Matt Kish’s mixed-media illustrations for the book. Kish is illustrating each page of his 552 page Signet Classics Edition–the same edition I used for a graduate seminar years ago. Kish’s art is fresh, fun, and invigorating; it’s also quite thoughtful in its interpretation of Melville’s text, and never fussy. You can check out an easy-to-use visual index here, or visit his blog here.