This year, as happens every year, there is a marathon reading of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick in Sag Harbor. Many chapters mention or describe the whaling town that was Sag Harbor in the 1840s. The reading begins Friday, June 7 at 12:30 p.m. at Canio’s Books, ends there at 2:30 p.m., then continues at 3 p.m. at the Old Whalers’ Church on Union Street until 6:45 p.m. After another break, it moves back to Canio’s from 7 to 10 p.m. and then retires for the night.
The next day, Saturday, it picks up at the Whaling Museum at 10 a.m., continues to noon, then after a pause continues at the John Jermain Memorial Library from 1 to 4 p.m., then after another break goes back to Canio’s from 5 to 11 p.m., then once again pauses for the night. It concludes beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Eastville Community Historical Society on Hampton Street and concludes there at 12:45 p.m. There is an after party at Canio’s from 1 to 5 p.m.
Now, if you want to hear every word in the book in sequence from beginning to end, you have to be following it all over town, from the locations on Main Street to Union Street, then back to Main Street, then over to Hampton Road and then back to Main Street.
From this perspective, there could be crowds of people walking from one place to the other at the appropriate hour. But I think a better way is to go to each reading at its very end and hear just the last few words. That is, in fact, what Captain Ahab did, glimpsing then chasing the great white whale from one part of the ocean to another while getting more and more worked up for not getting there on time each time. Finally, at the end of the book, he catches up with the whale and the whale kills him.
There’s an elegance about duplicating the captain’s experience. After six frustrating latenesses, go to the after party at Canio’s on Sunday afternoon and get completely smashed.