Moby-Dick Marathon NYC Returns!

You may know the lovely and oh-so-generous literary citizen Amanda Bullock as the Director of Public Programming at Housing Works Books, but she is also the co-founder and co-organizer of the Moby-Dick Marathon (MDMNYC)! 

This three-day marathon reading of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, will be held in New York City from November 14th - November 16th (Ishmael super-fans may recognize the 14th as the anniversary of the U.S. publication of the book). In the past, over one hundred and fifty people participated in the event, each reading ten-minute segments of the novel. Three independent bookstores around the city hosted the reading: WORD, Molasses Books, and of course the Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe.

This year, MDMNYC hopes to expand their venue options, hire photographers and web designers, print programs in color, and provide their guests with more spoons for clam chowder! And they’re asking (nicely) for your help.

Show your support for this incredible project by backing their Kickstarter campaign! To make donating even more of a no-brainer, the MDMNYC team has also lined up some unreal-cool incentives for anyone who backs this whale of a project. The entire novel in Litograph poster-form? Yes please.


Before heading to the Moby Dick Marathon tonight, read about the man behind the epic novel.

The Great Leviathan by Andrew Delbanco

Herman Melville was judged by his father to be “very backward in speech & somewhat slow in comprehension.” He bounced around as a clerk in a bank and a hat store, helped out on his uncle’s farm and did a brief working stint on a merchant vessel. Then in January 1841, he boarded the whaler “Acushnet” in Massachusetts. “A whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard,” he wrote ten years later in Moby-Dick, with a mixture of resentment and relief at having missed the privileges of the caste into which he was born.

Melville the New Yorker by Alfred Kazin

Melville is very much a New Yorker, even if his New York is no longer exists. Melville the New Yorker is Melville the young sailor in Redburn, enthusiastically cheering on the Irish immigrants being loaded in the steerage ships for New York harbor. He is the New Yorker in his suggestion of the immensity and unfriendliness of the city in Pierre, for a cardinal point about New York is that, until our day, it was easier to write a memorable novel about Chicago than about New York. Melville is never more a New Yorker than when he is celebrating New York’s incomparable marriage with the sea on the first page of Moby-Dick.

Moby-Dick Marathon NYC by Amanda Bullock and MDMNYC — Kickstarter

HUGE HUGE EXCITING NEWS! We just launched a kickstarter for MDMNYC! We have some really amazing rewards thanks to our generous and amazing sponsors penguinclassics, outofprintclothing, King Post Productions, spudd64, Sophie Blackall, Brian Floca, biancastone, littleneckbk, amyvirginiabuchanan, litographs and more!

Check it out, spread the word, and maybe pledge to help bring the 2014 Moby-Dick Marathon NYC to life. Thank you!

The “Moby-Dick” marathon organizers assembled a list of “practice words” for readers to mull in advance of the marathon. Stretch your tongue muscles and dust off your dictionaries, Melville fans.

  • ambergris
  • bilge
  • belike
  • bespeak
  • bestir
  • bethink
  • betoken
  • brevet
  • calomel
  • catarrh
  • cetology
  • concupiscent
  • Daggoo
  • gamboge ghost
  • grampus
  • grapnel
  • harpooneer
  • hawser
  • kannakin
  • isinglass
  • jalap
  • luff
  • orison
  • orotund
  • parang
  • Queequeg
  • quirt
  • scimitar
  • skrimshander
  • yaw

Our exclusive litographs for the MDMNYC Kickstarter campaign. There is one quarter of the actual text of Moby-Dick on each poster; so choose your favorite, or get all four and hang the entire epic masterpiece on your wall! Pledge now.

The novel in order would go whale skeleton, harpoons, harpooneer, whale splash. The fourth, the whale breaching, was designed by our friend Ben Tuttle and the other three by the Litographs team.

Readers will read for ten minutes each.

Reading at WORD on Friday 11/16 from 6pm to approximately midnight, in this order (subject to change): Paul Dano, Adam Wilson, David Goodwillie, Maris Kreizman, Josh Cohen, Stephanie Anderson, Adam Robinson, Zoe Kazan, Lev Grossman, Charles Gariepy, Nick Douglas, Bethany Ides (hymn), Justin Taylor, Elizabeth Gaffnery, Brendan Sullivan, Jennifer Brook, Rachel Fershleiser, Robb Todd, Gary Giddins, Aaron Lefkove, Jason Diamond, Matthew Wills, Miles Klee, Christine Kanowik, Avram Kline, Rachel Syme, Dustin Kurtz, Matthew Love, Michael Malice, Lindsey Weber, John Glassie, Anna Perleberg, Mitchell Jackson, James Yeh,  Michaelango Matos, Sasha Fletcher

Reading at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe on Saturday 11/17 from 10am to 3pm, in this order (subject to change): Chris Messer, Sarah Vowell, Mark Kurlansky, Michael Signorelli, Tim Mucci, Sophie Blackall, Kate Milford, Erin Lyons, Jo Firestone, The Pequod Players perform chapters 37–40, Martha Kaplan, Alan Light, Said Sayrafiezadeh, Lucas Hunt, Paul Legault, David Hollander, Emily Hughes, John Leland, Lincoln Michel, Karen Schoemer, Tim Horvath, Jessica Watson, Edward Schmidt, Dan Wilbur, Paul Morris, Erika Byrnes, Anna Wiener, Ted Barron, Paul Elie

Reading at Molasses Books on Saturday 11/17 from 4pm to approximately midnight, in this order (subject to change): Rick Moody, Allison Amend, Jackie Goss, Myla Goldberg, Anne Margaret Daniel, Oriana Leckert, Ben Sisario, Chiara Atik, Tobias Carroll, Molly Fischer, Gersh Kuntzman, Lizzie Simon, Aryn Kyle, Robert Lopez, Karl Larocca, Amanda Bullock, Matt Nelson, Mary Morris, Sandra Murray, Jennifer Doerr, Joanna Smith-Rakoff, Lauren Sandler, Eric Hynes, Larry O’Connor, Rob Spillman, Evan Smith-Rakoff, Mary Pilon, Lena Sradnick, Ken Derry, Edgar Oliver, Fiona Maazel, Erin Shea, Julia Renaud, Sam Maclaughlin, Melissa Faliveno, Julia Bartz, Matthew Sharpe, Paul La Farge, Michele Filgate, Lauren Leto, Michelle Legro, Jack Haskell, Jonathan Ames, Polly Bresnick, Mark Doten, Susan Duff Bresnick, Paul Bresnick

Reading at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe on Sunday 11/18 from 10am to approximately 4pm, in this order (subject to change): Ryan Davidson, Jeffrey Sanford, Joe Riippi, Rachael Hunt, Patrick Lamson-Hall, Brad Nelson, Rachel Hurn, Ashley D’Arcy, Michael Kostroff, A.N. Devers, Scott Cheshire, Glenn Kurtz, Eileen Myles, Sarah Gerard, Brian Floyd, Heidi Tanenbaum, John Walsh, Brownwen Hruska, Tania James, Tiffany Gibert, Devin McKinney, Lynne Tillman, Aaron Calvin, Joseph Salvatore, Ophira Eisenberg, Adrianna Ranta, Jennifer Gilmore, Ryan Chapman, Will Hermes, Brian Floca, John Bryant, Helena Fitzgerald, Kelsey Ford, Ariana Reines, Stefan Merrill Block, Touré

Watch on

Only THIRTEEN hours to go to fund the Moby-Dick Marathon NYC! Please pledge, tell your friends, increase your pledge, and help us hit $10k by 11PM tonight. We have truly amazing rewards left, including a chowder zine from Littleneck and STOCK TIPS, original art from spudd64 (Matt Kish), songs from amyvirginiabuchanan, and so much more.

Check out the project and pledge here.

"What do we gain from reading the book out loud? If it is only the excuse to say “harponeer” fifteen times in a minute, that would surely be enough. But there is more here. First, the work benefits. Melville is a storyteller, and as I’ve said, his writing, at least in the seafaring stories, has a rhythm to it that is only highlighted when eyes are chained to tongue and the reader is forced to speak the man’s silly dialogues, his grandiose heights of descriptive prose, and more than anything, his somber exaltations of humanity. More broadly, the readership benefits. We were not critiquing the book, or even discussing it. We didn’t perform it. We were not there to buy it. We had just come together as a readership to do only that: to read the thing, together. That’s a rare and proudly contrary instinct when it comes to books, if a happy one. Seeing it followed by so many is a thrill and a motivation, to authors and publishers, yes, and readers, too." (via Dustin Kurtz, And then we all giggled at the sperm-squeezing chapter » MobyLives)

Pictured: Julia Bartz reads at Molasses Books