April 7, Monday evening -- Reading Herman Melville

At the corner of Powell and Geary Streets, tourist central of San Francisco, a block from Saks Fifth Avenue and the St. Francis Hotel, where the doormen were hailing taxis for elegant women in stilettos speaking French very convincingly ...maybe they were French.

The reader stood in a corner, out of the way, with his book. I explained my project. He wanted $5. I left but later returned. Though I don't feel like my blog should be the stuff of monetary transactions, I could spare $1 and, from the appearance of his duct taped jacket, he'd be better be better by, if not $5, by a dollar.

I offered him $1 for a conversation.


Here is a photograph of my housemate's chard for substitute.

Reading The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, by Herman Melville. It's about a guy who sneaks aboard a steamboat on the Mississippi River and tests people's confidence.

His favorite books of all time--Papillon, by Henri Charrière--an autobiography by an unjustly imprisoned French man about his prison escapes--and, by Jack London, White Fang and Call of the Wild. There are many more, he said, it's just hard to think of them all at once. (Here's a post of a dogeared reader I met in Atlantic City whose favorite book was Papillon....he's not pictured either.)


What prison escape stories do you like? One of my favorites is The Long Walk, by Slavomir Rawicz, about a man who escapes from a Siberian labor camp and walks to British India. Whether the story is true or not remains a question. Another good book I read recently that gives an idea of the New York prison system (but not escapes) is Random Family, by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc.


Princess Poochie said...

The best and classic of course - The Count of Monte Cristo.


Sass E-mum said...

I'm a Papillon fan too. Another great prison/life on the run read is Howard Marks' autobiography, Mr Nice. It's the kind of story that makes you glad you kept life simple.

Anonymous said...

"The Shawshank Redemption", although I can't say that that was really about prison escape, it certainly involved it.

I cannot get into Melville at all. I had a class teaching his works, and gave up on him after attempting Mardi and Moby Dick.

I also attempted The Count of Monte Cristo, but as I was reading 4 books at once, the plethora of characters in the novel began to confuse me and I put it down. I will return to it though.

Ms. Bassette said...

I am sooooooooooo happy to read that someone else couldn't read Moby Dick. I hated the book. I could skip tens of pages and he would still be chasing that darn fish. Thank god I could do my paper on another one of his, can't remember the name now, but short and about another guy on a boat. That one was good, not that I remember it 25 years later!