November 2014 | Nate Pedersen

Second Annual Moby Dick Marathon

Moby_Dick_final_chase.jpgThe second biennial public reading of Herman Melville's perennial classic Moby Dick took place this past weekend in New York City. Over the course of three days, a wide variety of participants took turns reading Moby Dick out loud at three different locations around the city. The marathon began at the Ace Hotel on Friday night from 6pm - 11pm, continued on Saturday at the South Street Seaport Museum from 10am - 11 pm, and completed on Sunday at HousingWorks Bookstore from 10am - 4pm. Over the course of those 24 total hours, 138 readers took their turns with the novel. Readers includes actors such as Michael Kostroff of The Wire, writers such as Nathaniel Philbrick and Amor Towles, along with editors from Buzzfeed and Lapham's Quarterly, and a host of Moby Dick fans.

The biennial marathon reading of Moby Dick is the brainchild of Amanda Bullock of the HousingWorks Bookstore and Polly Duff Bresnick of the Sackett Street Writer's Workshop. The two launched the first Moby Dick marathon in 2012. The dates for the event are set to approximately align with the U.S. publication of Moby Dick, which occurred on November 14, 1851. Bullock and Bresnick decided to host the event in New York City because the novel opens in Manhattan and Melville was born and died in the city. They funded the event through a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Asked by The Guardian why the novel lends itself to such an event, author Leslie Jamison said, "It's a book about obsession that lends itself to obsession... You get attached to things you've invested time in. [The marathon] allows us to speak and live within the text."

[Image from Wikipedia]