Knit to This: The Great American Novel

By Ann Shayne
November 12, 2016

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43 Comments
  • What a fun idea! I hadn’t heard about this project so thanks for sharing it. It will be big fun to listen together! Anchors aweigh!

  • Great idea! Tilda Swinton and Moby Dick! Does she read the whole book?

    • Each reader takes one chapter, so it ends up an ever-changing series of voices. Curious to hear how this sounds.

  • Excellent! I can’t wait to hear the rest. This is just what I needed, as I have some knitting to do. Winter is coming, indeed. <3

  • Hooray! Around the turn of this century I read “the Dick” with a group led by an English-prof BFF (everyone else a novice); we called ourselves “the Hyphen-Dicksters.” Even my mom was motivated to follow suit (she delighted in my pencilled marginal comments). I’ve known of but not yet dived into the Read. You’re right, Ann: the timing couldn’t be better!

  • Moby Dick was assigned reading in one of my undergraduate literature courses. I expected to hate it–and it is long–so imagine my surprise when I absolutely fell in love with this book. The description of ambergris-ambergris!–is amazing. This is a wonderful selection.

  • So fabulous.

  • This is so serendipitous. My husband’s choice for our book club is Moby Dick, and we’ll be reading it, not in one fell swoop, but in installments – the holidays are coming up, you know.

    As a knitter, I understand the lure of audio books – as a perpetual graduate student, I prefer podcasts. BBC 4’s In Our Time has really useful summaries of historical and philosophical topics I can use to inform my teaching in the college classroom. BUT I cling to my actual book reading, especially in this age of annoying beeping devices. So I’ll be with you as an actual reader – it might be interesting to compare notes.

  • Oh my this is so perfect for me right now. So many hats I would like to knock off heads! I love reading, our house is spilling books. But with all my knitting I have discovered our library’s Overdrive system which allows borrowing audiobooks…it’s free. Looking forward to this as I do my gift knitting. Thank you!

  • It isn’t the book people think; it’s scope is epic, so much more than that whale. The language is beautiful.

    • Already dazzled, and only on Chapter 2.

  • And if you haven’t seen “In the Heart of the Sea”, it’s the historical background to the book. A great movie for a wintry day. Avast! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1390411/

    • I saw In the Heart of the Sea and loved it. Then I listened to the novel by the same name (In the Heart of the Sea) that inspired the movie and loved it too. The author is Nathaniel Philbrick. Then I noticed that he is the reader for chapter 14: Nantucket!

  • I have read Moby Dick twice: once in high school, once in college, almosy half a century ago. I have often thought I should read it again, now as person with a certain “maturity”, but the podcast is a definite push, and thhis is a perfect book for cold winter days…if winter chooses to shoe up any time soon (I still have blooming flowers…in Minnesota, no less!)

  • I have read Moby Dick,what A perfect adventure for someone who needs to escape from reality after this week!

  • Money Dick is one of my favorite books, and my daughter’s too. I’m in.

  • OMG, this is epic! I’ve been meaning to re-read Moby Dick but haven’t been able to get into it (my younger self seems to have been able to stomach such things much better). Thanks for the suggestion!

  • I’ve always wanted to read this boook. And right away, I wondered what a hypo meant.

  • Serendipity! The Port;and Museum of Art is doing an epic live reading of Moby Dick starting on November 17th and lasting over four days (drop in/out when you want), in connection with an amazing exhibit of three generations of paintings inspired by the book. Y’all come!

    • Clumsy fingers — that would be the Portland (Maine) Museum of Art (not Port;and).

      • Oh, man, we were getting all excited about this!! Thought it was our Portland (Oregon). Well, okay, a bit of a drive (3.5 hours over a mountain pass and through the Columbia Gorge). Still! Possible!

    • That sounds like a lovely event. If I manage to find my second-hand truck next week, maybe I’ll make a road trip. Thanks for the tip!

  • I started listening to this MD Big Read last winter–why did I stall out? I can’t remember now. Thanks for the reminder, I think I’ll dive in again.

  • I’m packing my ditty bag.

  • Perfect. The knitting I’m doing these days, the Station Wagon Blanket, lends itself to interruption and is handy for knitting around family or friends. However! I like to listen to spoken word while I paint and painting is not interruption friendly. To get lost in Moby Dick for hours while painting? Bliss. Plus my knitting doesn’t need the emotion that MD (Moby Dick not Mason Dixon, though as a really long time reader I feel passionately about y’all) offers but having it seep into and inform my painting is welcome.

    • Oh wow, KT–be sure to look at the Moby-Dick Big Read site. Each chapter has a painting picked out to accompany it. Would love to hear your thoughts about these paintings, which from my brief look are extraordinary.

  • What a find! Tilda Swinton is an amazing narrator. I will enjoy listening to this. Thank you!

  • Okay, so what IS a hypo anyway? Inquiring minds want to know. And you are SO right, Ann. It’s been a difficult week, and I fear we have many more ahead of us.

    • I looked it up to confirm, and it is a shortened version of hypochondriac. In the old days used in the sense of nervous disorder or depression. I’m guessing a sort of masculine version of the vapors…

  • Wow! There’s some big names on that list. Sir David Attenborough? David Cameron?
    Sounds like just the ticket for winter afternoons.
    You are mining rich seams at MDK.

  • What a fantastic idea. As usual. Time to get out my foul weather gear. Suspenders on!

  • I had never read (or even wanted to read) Moby Dick but found the MB Big Read and knit my way through it a few years ago. It was worth every minute! Would love to see them do another book.

  • I love this! My kids already think I’m weird because I chose to major in English Literature and Moby Dick, Shakespeare, and Pride and Prejudice are my favorite reads. Listening to this epic will bring about the most eye rolling imaginable! I can see it now, “Shush, I’m listening to Moby Dick!”

    • Lol–I just took a walk, mesmerized as I listened, then realized a friend was yelling behind me “Ann! Ann!” I actually said, “Sorry–listening to Moby-Dick!”

      Already in Chapter 7–instantly compelling.

  • Thank you for this very fine idea! Moby Dick is a lot like Walden, I think, in that most people have a pretty ingrained idea about what the book is until one day when they get around to reading the actual book. We are all in for a grand journey, with the huge benefit of being dry and warm throughout, plus being able to stop and feed goats at appropriate intervals. SO GRATEFUL you thought of this right now, Ann!
    Call me Quinn.

  • i read moby dick last year and it was wonderful. i never thought that a 19th century novel about whaling would be full of humor, social commentary on race, whale oil consumption, environmental concerns, just plain good stuff. last year san francisco had a public read along where people volunteer to read chapters to an audience. it was so much fun. anyway, great choice and love the new changes to the blog – keep on keeping on! thank you ladies.

  • I’ve felt some secret embarrassment that I had never read Moby Dick (a bit aggravated by the fact of being a retired English teacher). SO, when I found a 1936 edition at a garage sale, I grabbed it . . . and let it sit. Every time I opened it the language seemed just too much to be pleasurable. But last week I was between library books and decided to just DO it. On chapter XXXV now, Ahab is beginning to announce who he is. I find I can now read more quickly and absorb the meaning more intuitively than when I started.
    All of that is to say that listening to Tilda Swinton read Chapter 1 this afternoon was a revelation. Hearing that lovely voice float through the density of those words added to both my comprehension and appreciation.
    Thank you for letting us know about The Big Read . . . as I riff on my Rifton it will be good company.

  • What a fantastic idea! I’m in!

  • Thanks for the recommendation. I can’t wait to start.

  • This is oddly very appealing, thank you for sharing it.. Getting lost at sea could be good for me right now.

  • I started about 6 months ago. The rolling prose – I’ve got 16 chapters left. I may have to start over again from the beginning…

  • this would be perfect while knitting Julia Farwell-Clays pattern “queequeg” http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/queequeg

  • I love Moby Dick! Here’s a link to my college English teacher being forced to “teach” Moby Dick to Stephen Colbert atop a speeding roller coaster:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9R4xNimPsjE

    Apologies to anyone who saw my other posting of this link. I can’t figure out where it went.