We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Call me Bird Dog. I would have to confess to being a Melville fan, having read everything he wrote that is extant, including Billy Budd a few times and Moby Dick more than a few. Far from being a daunting book, Moby Dick is pure fun, a rambling, shambling mythic tale decorated with all sorts of information and local color; truly a book as big as an ocean and as unruly. If Moby Dick is the ocean, then Billy Budd is a pearl in an oyster at the bottom of the ocean. Like all wonderful writers, Melville couldn't write on one dimension if he tried. But Melville was almost forgotten and lost until the 1920s. From Dirda's review of Delbanco's new biography:
The life and afterlife of Herman Melville (1819-1891) present the greatest illustration in American literature, perhaps in world literature, of the Psalm "The same stone which the builders refused is become the head-stone." After the popular success of Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846), which led to the young Melville being dubbed "the man who lived among cannibals," he embarked on a literary career that went gradually, then precipitously, downhill. By the time he was 40 he had essentially abandoned fiction altogether, tried publishing poetry with comparable success (i.e., none), and finally resigned himself -- he was, after all, married, with four children and debts -- to spending the rest of his life as a customs inspector for the city of New York. When he died, the newspaper obituary misprinted his name as "Henry Melville."