|About the Book|
Dear The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym,I love you. I hate you. You confuse me because you evoke within me such conflicting emotions. The truth? I really got into a relationship with you because I thought that you would be a straight-up maritime adventure novel a la Master and Commander. I heard you inspired Herman Melville when he was writing Moby Dick. Thats what I was looking for. What I got was... well, what are you, Arthur?Heres the thing, Gordy: you were always good as an adventure novel. That was your strength and I always liked that about you. I liked your gruesome tales of cannibalism, the ship of dead people, the mutiny, the shark attacks, killing a polar bear with a knife and the sprays of blood, etc. But then, oh God, there were the parts where you devolved into long passages about nautical terminology. For pages and pages you rattled off longitudes and latitudes and the way the sea currents were running. I almost left you then. You were elegant as hell, but I was bored off my ass. Stick to the action, Arthur, I wanted to say, If I wanted a travelogue Id read The Voyage of the Beagle. If I wanted a treatise about the nesting habits of frigate birds Id pick up a Time-Life book or check out Wikipedia.I feel like you are trying to be all things to all people, Arthur. I think this has to do with your origins, how you were published episodically in a newspaper and had to appeal a variety of readers. And while I admire your versatility, I think you should just stick to who you really are, deep down: an adventure novel. Or maybe, again, thats just who I wanted you to be and Im projecting my expectations on you. If you feel smothered by me, thats fine.And you are a racist son of a bitch, too. All the black guys are either mutineers or knuckle-dragging savages? Come on!Arthur, Im sorry it didnt work out. I wanted to love you so bad. I want to compare you other lovers: your lost civilizations reminded me of Borges, your castaways reminded me of Robert Louis Stevenson, you seem at times like you couldve been a pulp novel penned in the early twentieth century---all swashbuckle and edge-of-your-seat adventure. But I just cant look past your flaws. And maybe thats my fault. I think our age difference is a chasm between us. You come from different generation. I cant help but judge you by my modern standards of tolerance (and post-Hemingway appreciation for strong, brief sentences) and thats not fair to either of us. Im sure theres a better reader out there for you, somewhere, Arthur. We had some good times this past week and a half, but Im glad to move on. Im eager to start a relationship with another book. Me and Raymond Chandler have been seeing each other lately, and I think I might pursue that a little. Im eager to start a new chapter in my reading life (sorry for the pun).Dont take any of this personally. Again: its not you, Arthur. Its me.Sincerely,Richard PorterP.S. Bad-ass cover, BTW.