Dear Herman Melville,
Call me Christopher. I did not want to do it. It was further from my reach than Jupiter. It was as stunning as looking at a head with no body. It was as challenging as carving a monumental city. The danger would almost be as traumatic as serving on the Pequod in Moby-Dick with a captain so totally preoccupied with his revenge that he neglected the care and even life of his crew. 1% chance of survival if I am lucky. People all around me told me I could not do it. However some of my siblings had conquered similar challenges, and they encouraged me. Yet I thought swimming across the seven seas behind Ahab’s boat would’ve been just as harrowing.
The excuses I invented were no match for my teacher’s insistence that I take on this task. My siblings have conquered mammoth books so I had pressure on me just like a sibling of an athletic star when he tries out for sports. I did not know what to do. Except open it up. And read it.
Call me Crazy. Reading has always been my worst nightmare. Some of my siblings speed through books almost as if they eat them as snacks. As for me, I seem to choke on them. But once I reached middle school and the books started getting thicker, I just about had it with reading.
Then your 592-page book, Moby-Dick, like the White Whale within it who took Ahab’s leg and sent him into madness, took my brain and made me mad too. Just the opposite of Ahab’s crew, I really didn’t want to start it. But I did. Next, I really didn’t want to finish it, because it was so long and arduous for me to conquer. I realized that conquering this book was like conquering the Moby-Dick. But then at last, I really didn’t want to leave it unfinished. Captain Ahab just wouldn’t let me sneak off his boat and swim to shore, and I found myself looking for the White Whale, Moby-Dick, with him.
I could smell and taste the salty air. I could feel a cold breeze brushing my hair. I could hear voices from up high screaming, “Thar she blows.” I could see the crazed Ahab, whose leg is half man, half whale’s jawbone. I, too, along with the crew, couldn’t finish chasing the 100 whales which would provide the community with oil to light their lanterns. I saw Ahab, focusing only on vengeance, reroute the ship.
I’m not going to lie to you. Your book was extremely difficult for me to read. It took me awhile to finally reach the end of Captain Ahab’s voyage. But when I did, I knew it had been worth it. Getting through such a big and interesting story, though it took more time and effort than I was at first willing to give, made me realize that I have the ability to read long books and benefit from them if I persevere. In the end Captain Ahab died in his revenge battle with the whale, but I will no longer let big books conquer me. Because now I know that I can conquer them. No longer “Call me Christopher.” Now “Call me Ishmael,” because conquering this challenging book was as difficult as conquering the White Whale. Now I, too, feel like the lone survivor of my adventure. And I live to tell.