Most people, indeed smart, literate and nice ones, will tell you that “Huckleberry Finn” is the great American novel. Remain aloof! Be polite, of course, but adopt a knowing look. Smile. Tell them, “Well, [pause] if that’s your kind of thing.” Quote Abraham Lincoln, who read “Moby-Dick” but not “Huckleberry Finn” (through no fault of his own, dying as he did 19 years before it was published): “People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.” (He wrote that in a book review — not of “Moby-Dick.”)
Christopher Buckley wants you to read (and re-read) Moby-Dick. I want to talk to Christopher Buckley about fast fish and loose fish — although perhaps I’d better re-read the tale of the great white whale myself before indulging in any delusions of literary insight.