Speaking Volumes
3:12 am
Mon April 1, 2013

North Sider Betsy O'Neill Recalls Her 'Summer of Melville'

North Sider Betsy O'Neill admits: "In a previous life, I probably lived in the 19th century." In her present incarnation, she spent the summer of 2012 immersed in Melvilliana.

How much Melville is too much? Ask Betsy O'Neill.
How much Melville is too much? Ask Betsy O'Neill.
Credit Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life
In "Washington: A Life," celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one-volume life of Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French and Indian War, his creation of Mount Vernon, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention and his magnificent performance as America's first president.
-Penguin

Jay Parini, The Passages of H.M.
Through the eyes of his long-suffering wife, Lizzie, we are introduced to an aging, angry and drunken Herman Melville. He is decades past his flourishing career as a writer of bestselling tales of seagoing adventures. His epic but ungainly "Moby-Dick" was meant to make him immortal, but critics scoffed and readers fled. He spends his days trudging the docks of New York as a customs inspector and contemplating his malign literary fate. But within him is stirring, perhaps, one great work yet. . . . In a narrative that shifts seamlessly between Lizzie’s personal account and evocative snapshots of Melville’s crowded life, Parini manages to humanize a giant of letters, while illuminating the source of his matchless creativity.
-Random House

Tim Severin, In Search of Moby Dick
Acclaimed adventure writer and explorer Tim Severin has made a career of retracing the journeys of literary or historical figures in replica vessels. These experiences have been turned into a body of captivating and illuminating books, including "The Brendan Voyage," "In Search of Genghis Khan" and "In Search of Moby Dick." Severin has received numerous awards for exploration and geographic history, including the Founder's Medal of England's Geographic Society. When not traveling, he lives in County Cork, Ireland.
-Perseus