90. (July 2020) The Great Eastern by Howard Rodman

1

I don't think I ever made an announcement thread for this, though I did mention it in the Newsletter thread, so hopefully this is only a reminder and won't come as a shocking surprise!

My pick for our July book is The Great Eastern by Howard A. Rodman. Here's the back cover blurb:

A sprawling adventure pitting two of literature’s most iconic anti-heroes against each other: Captain Nemo and Captain Ahab. Caught between them: real-life British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, builder of the century’s greatest ship, The Great Eastern. But when he’s kidnapped by Nemo to help design a submarine with which to fight the laying of the Translatlantic cable - linking the two colonialist forces Nemo hates, England and the US - Brunel finds himself going up against his own ship, and the strange man hired to protect it, Captain Ahab, in a battle for the soul of the 19th century.

And here's an excerpt from a review. I'm halfway through the book now and quite agree with this, however I expect I may be in for some battle from the likes of you that dislike Moby Dick. But if reading Moby Dick for the slow read is going to be my white whale, then maybe this book is my gold doubloon, nailed to the mast in an effort to entice you to join me at the end!

I'm just kidding - I know I won't change anyone's mind. Hopefully you'll indulge me. One thing's for certain - this is like the polar opposite of the Broken Earth trilogy.

Ultimately, The Great Eastern reads like a sprawling 19th-century novel that rollicks with the sense of adventure and mystery that so informs Verne’s best work. It is an engaging tale, a kind of return to what adventurous literature used to be that never loses sight of where literature — and its most complex, unforgettable characters — can still go.

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/past-and-pastiche-in-howard-a-rodmans-the-great-eastern/

And special incentive for @clash_bowley (to whom I already owe 2 years worth of book club fees for making him buy a book he couldn't read, so why not go for the trifecta) Brian Eno is credited in the acknowledgements section.

Comments

  • 1

    I have started it and am enjoying it so far! I will be looking for the Eno reference! :D

  • 1
    Good luck with that! It’s not what you might expect.
  • 1

    I can't imagine what I WOULD expect - except the Spanish Inquisition! ;)

  • 1

    I’m in for this book. I have it, and I’m five or six chapters in. I’m off work the next two weeks, so I should be able to start discussion at the appropriate time.

    I’ve read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea but not Moby Dick.

  • 0
    > @clash_bowley said:
    > I can't imagine what I WOULD expect - except the Spanish Inquisition! ;)

    "Nobody expects..."
  • 0
    I'm really enjoying the concept and the plot, though the (to my sensibilities) rather overdone archaisms of sentence structure are something of an irritation. "The captain did go down the street" and such like. But I can get past that.

    Among other things, it made me want to reread _20000 Leagues_ - the version I recall was a young person's abridged one in vivid blue and green hardback, and I'm not sure if I have ever read the complete one. _Moby Dick_ much more recently... but so far I haven't seen enough of Ahab to know how well he has been integrated here.

    Looking forward to finishing reading this, and the subsequent discussion.
  • 1
    Oddly, when I started this thread and went to write the title, I only typed in ‘90’ and the software auto filled the rest. I thought maybe I had started a draft already, or even posted it already, but I hadn’t. Is the forum software getting smarter?
  • 1
    edited July 21

    No, we are all getting dumber! It's the contrast that creates the illusion. :p

  • 1
    Finished. It was interesting. I was expecting something quite pulpy and got something highly literary. Looking forward to the discussion.
  • 1

    I’m within harpoon distance. I be finished tonight.

  • 0
    I'm finished now
  • 1

    I gave up on it about half-way through. It'll be interesting to see the comments.

  • 0
    > @NeilNjae said:
    > I gave up on it about half-way through. It'll be interesting to see the comments.

    I thought it could have finished well before it ended :)
  • 2

    @RichardAbbott said:

    @NeilNjae said:
    I gave up on it about half-way through. It'll be interesting to see the comments.

    I thought it could have finished well before it ended :)

    I came in for the pulp and had a tough time finding anyone. My assumptions were utterly off base. I'm half way through and the sledding is tough. I am NOT a 'literature' kinda guy. I'm fine with novels that happen to be lit, like Nabokov, but when it is all self consciously LITERATURE, I don't like it. Just like pulp that is self consciously PULP.

  • 1
    edited July 31

    Certainly wasn't the pulp adventure that the back cover described, but I liked it for what it was. That said, when I was about a quarter of the way in I knew Neil and Clash probably wouldn’t like it.

    Look for questions Sunday or Monday.

  • 1

    @Apocryphal said:
    Certainly wasn't the pulp adventure that the back cover described, but I liked it for what it was. That said, when I was about a quarter of the way in I knew Neil and Clash probably wouldn’t like it.

    Am I that predictable?

  • 2
    In your dislike of Melville, yes you are.
  • 1
    FYI the questions are up, for those following notifications.
  • 0

    @Apocryphal said:
    FYI the questions are up, for those following notifications.

    Sorry, missed them, will catch up later today or tomorrow!

  • 1

    Yeah, I didn’t know the questions were up until it was announced here.

  • 0

    @WildCard said:
    Yeah, I didn’t know the questions were up until it was announced here.

    I get caught every time by the notifications defaulting to "off"....

  • 1

    I have my notifications turned on, but I have to manually select it when new discussions get set up. Am I going about it wrong? The notification system here is not intuitive to me.

  • 1
    I don’t even use notifications. I just check in daily and new activity is highlighted for me, no matter which thread it’s in.
  • 0
    > @WildCard said:
    > I have my notifications turned on, but I have to manually select it when new discussions get set up. Am I going about it wrong? The notification system here is not intuitive to me.

    When a new area is set up, notifications are set to off by default and you have to manually update to "on". I know of no way to default new areas to on.
  • 1

    @Apocryphal said:
    I don’t even use notifications. I just check in daily and new activity is highlighted for me, no matter which thread it’s in.

    I don’t like to do that because I’m not always ready when a discussion goes up I like to keep my notification saved in my email for when I finish reading and am ready to join the discussion.

Sign In or Register to comment.