Fans of Moby-Dick should read Nathaniel Philbrick’s outstanding historical account In the Heart of the Sea. The book, which tracks the fate of The Essex, a New England whaling vessel sunk by a humongous sperm whale in the South Pacific, is vivid and harrowing. It’s also, as it turns out, only one of the naval catastrophes to befall George Pollard, Jr., The Essex‘s captain: a second wreck of his was recently located off the coast of Hawaii.
“Yes, they believed I was a dangerous person, unpredictable, and I observed that I really scared them. Sometimes I noted that the guards looked at me as judges. Their look translated to me as ‘gorilla, stay in your cage!’ When soldiers were off-duty, they came to gawk at me with a sense of wonder. Sometime they would throw me a piece of meat or something sweet, just like to an animal. The old EZ: an exciting and fascinating sight.” Ezra Pound reflects on his time in an Italian prison.
“Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—T. S. Eliot is of this type.” President Obama wrote these words as a twenty-two-year-old student, but Edward Mendelson argues that Obama’s words as a literary critic reveal his tendencies as a politician. Check out our own Michael Bourne’s review of Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, where Obama’s letter was originally published.
There are plenty of reading apps out there, but a company called Rooster has released another, this one designed to “allow users to consume bite-sized pieces of highly curated fiction” whenever they have a few spare moments. In an interview with BookBusiness, Yael Goldstein Love, the editorial director of the project, described Rooster as aiming “to bring immersive reading, particularly fiction reading, back into busy peoples’ lives.” It’s difficult to know how to feel about this. Of course we think busy people should read good fiction, but is this just a precursor to the inevitable change of literature in the face of growing technology and shortened attention spans?