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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Name I Won't Forget Again

How many times have you gotten through an entire book without recalling you'd earlier read another by the same author?

Because my memory is sharp (and also because I keep records - geek alert!), I'm usually aware of my previous exposure to authors. But when I began "Atlantic" (2010), Simon Winchester's name was not familiar to me. This meticulously researched book detailing "great sea battles, heroic discoveries, titanic storms, and a vast ocean of a million stories" is as engrossing as it is well written. Although there isn't a weak section, Chapter Four - entitled "Here The Sea of Pity Lies" - was the heartbreaking standout for me. Here Winchester painfully outlines how the Atlantic Ocean - specifically the section known as the Middle Passage - played a gruesome role in the lives of eleven million Africans after they were hijacked from their homes - "humans, offered wholesale".  I can't recommend "Atlantic" highly enough.

Just before writing an entry about "Atlantic" in my book journal, I glanced at Winchester's back catalog. "The Professor and The Madman", his 1998 book about the creation of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), has long been a non-fiction favorite of mine! Although I'm disappointed in my memory and my records, there's a happy ending to this story. That back catalog has eighteen other titles.

1 comment:

  1. I read The Professor and The Madman in August 2010. Two images immediately come to mind now: clouds of swirling ticker tape and a severed member. Yes, all those little slips of paper were kept catalogued in drawers but I imagine a huge celebratory parade in Manhattan with all that paper flying. And let's not talk about the severed member.
    Pat, Of all the people I've known, I see you as the most likely reader to notate words and the sentences in which they are used. I also see you as a man who feels things too intently and who gingerly walks a fine line between genius and insanity.